A recent AAA survey indicated that the percentage of Americans who are afraid to ride in a full self-driving vehicle fell from over 75% in early 2017 to 63%. The percentage of U.S. automakers and technology companies that are afraid to build self-driving cars is approximately zero.
While automakers and tech companies had invested an estimated $80 billion in autonomous (self-driving) technology as of last June, the total is dominated by two big acquisitions that together accounted for more than $60 billion of the total.
Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) for a while had its own autonomous vehicle project, but the company essentially dismantled it in 2016 and has instead been investing in other players — $1 billion in China’s Didi Chuxing, for example — and working on various software products related to autonomous driving.
According to a report at Bloomberg News, since last July Apple has added 24 vehicles to its California-based self-driving test fleet, bringing the total number of vehicles to 27. The recently registered vehicles are all Lexus RX450h SUVs.
Apple declined to comment on the report, but even with the big addition to the test fleet the company lags far behind other players like Alphabet Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOGL) spin-off Waymo that is testing self-driving technology in six states. In Arizona, Waymo has a fleet of 600 self-driving Fiat Chrysler minivans on the road. Traditional automakers like GM and Volkswagen are also adding more vehicles to their test fleets.
And if any of these firms is worried that Americans won’t buy a fully self-driving vehicle, they can take comfort in the fact that the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration does not expect a fully autonomous vehicle (SAE automation level 5) to be road-ready until at least 2025.