Have you missed me? Winter wasn’t harsh, just miserable enough to keep me inside and depressed.
It’s a well-known fact, at least within my family, that I’m an Apple fangirl. Doing stuff with an iPod, iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, and two Macs is what keeps me marginally sane during the miserable months. I read media reports; listen to podcasts; keep track of my meager shares of Apple stock; and watch company events in real time.
The most recent item to incite the Mac Nerd media (some of whom are friends) is Motor Trend’s Apple Car Exclusive: Experts Look At What Could Be A Game-Changer. I’ve only heard of Motor Trend; does the publication usually focus solely on design?
From my perspective, with the car being at least a few years from realization, appearance is irrelevant. More important factors are: 1) Will each wheel have a separate electrical motor, or will the entire vehicle will be powered by a single driveshaft? 2) Will engineers find a way to efficiently translate wheel rotation into electricity that charges the batteries sufficiently that range is extended to a number worth reporting? (I admit to being a perpetual motion junkie) 3) Could solar cells be molded into an attractive exterior of the auto that would contribute to battery charge when not providing environmental control for the interior?
To that last point, the Solar Impulse 2 is a completely solar-powered aircraft in the midst of circumnavigating the planet. It zips along at about 28 MPH with a wingspan exceeding that of a Boeing 747, hardly worth mentioning, but it proves the concept that solar cells on a vehicle have the potential to contribute to overall electrical power.
When Apple released the iPhone, the size and shape resembled other smartphones of the day; the genius of the device was what it could do. In the same fashion, a vehicle made by Apple will resemble other cars. It will have a pointy-ish nose to minimize drag and a cabin that will accommodate however many people, and their stuff, Apple decides the car should carry. It will be stylish, as befits any design influenced by Jony Ive, not the rounded box Motor Trend proposed.
An issue not addressed by Motor Trend is self-driving cars. I agree, it’s a topic for another decade. Despite the extensive research currently being conducted, there’s no reason to believe implementation won’t require at least ten years. On the otherhand, there are cars currently in production with “autopilot” capabilities that will track within a lane and adjust speed to match the vehicle in front.
On one podcast, (The Accidental Tech Podcast, I think) the guys surmised Apple could budget a BILLION dollars, an amount that wouldn’t make a noticable dent to the company balance sheet, to study the feasibility of producing automobiles without breaking a sweat. I think an Apple developed car would be awesome. Whether it comes to fruition or not, an Apple engineering team will advance the science of automotive electrical propulsion. I hope I live long enough to see what they bring forth.