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Apple self-driving car's first-ever crash: Rear-ended by a Nissan Leaf

Apple's autonomous test vehicle suffers a low-speed collision in self-driving mode.

One of Apple's growing fleet of Lexus SUVs used in testing for its autonomous vehicle project has been rear-ended at low speed by a Nissan Leaf, the company has revealed.

In a report to the California Department of Motor Vehicles, Apple disclosed that a crash had occurred on August 24 as its vehicle was preparing to merge onto the Lawrence Expressway in the Bay Area.

The crash is the first reported incident involving an Apple vehicle since Apple began testing last April, starting with three sensor-laden Lexus RX450hs, which expanded to 27 in January, 45 by March, and reportedly increased again to 55 in May.

According to Apple, its test vehicle was moving at less than one mile per hour in autonomous mode and was waiting for a safe opening to merge on to the highway when it was struck from the rear by a Nissan Leaf that was traveling at 15mph.

Apple reported no injuries, but both vehicles were damaged.

SEE: Tech and the future of transportation (ZDNet special report) | Download the report as a PDF (TechRepublic)

Following speculation about Apple's intent under Project Titan to build its own autonomous vehicle, Apple CEO Tim Cook in June 2017 said the company was developing "autonomous systems", which it saw as the "mother of all AI projects".

Apple appears to be building a system that it could one day sell to automakers, rather than use in its own car.

According to California DMV figures, Apple's crash was the 95th autonomous vehicle collision report it's received in 2018. In 2017 it received 30 incident reports.

Others that reported crashes in August included Alphabet's Waymo, GM, and Toyota. None of the incidents resulted in injury and most of the incidents were caused by other drivers.

The DMV in April expanded its driverless testing rules for the state to allow testing without a driver. Previously the vehicles required an approved driver.

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