Apple is once again opening up about self-driving pursuits, but the tech company lacks real-world driving data, like that of Tesla, and may never actually make it own cars.

Can Apple pull off the high-level artificial intelligence needed for autonomous driving, by simply "strapping" its equipment on vehicles and running tests? Can virtual reality simulations iron out all the bugs? Or, is a whole fleet of cars accumulating a significant amount of miles on public roads a necessity?

Apple autonomous test vehicles have been spotted on public roads on numerous occasions.

Apple autonomous test vehicles have been spotted on public roads on numerous occasions.

Uber, Waymo, and Tesla all believe that racking up fleet miles in real-world situations is paramount. Tesla is regularly touting its billions of miles of Autopilot driving data. Apple recently made some requests of the California department of motor vehicles, pertaining to autonomous vehicle testing guidelines and specifics. What is the company's agenda? It seems we may never know, and once we think we know, everything changes.

Morgan Stanley financial analyst, Adam Jonas, believes that Apple should hook up with Tesla, or even make a full-fledged attempt to acquire the Silicon Valley electric automaker. Just Tesla's self-driving data alone should be enough to lure Apple, according to Jonas. He asserts that Apple will spend $16 billion in R & D costs over the next four years  to work out the kinks in its autonomous technology. Meanwhile, Tesla is much further ahead in the game, and Jonas believes the electric automaker will only spend one quarter of that figure. He shared in a note to clients (via Teslarati):

“Each 1% share of the miles market at $1/mile (including the transport service and any related/ancillary revenue) is worth $200bn in revenue and potentially tens of billions of pretax profit."

This is not the first time the proposition has been brought to light by various sources. Not long ago, Jonas asked Musk if the Apple/Tesla partnership or merger might ever become a reality. Musk responded (via Teslarati):

“I don’t think they want to have that conversation — there’s not been any indication that they do. But obviously, Apple’s company makes some great product … I use their phone and their laptop, it’s cool. I don’t know what they’re going to do on the car front.”

Source: Teslarati