“As new employees were brought into Apple’s secret effort to create a self-driving car a few years ago, managers told them that they were working on the company’s next big thing: A product that would take on Detroit and disrupt the automobile industry,” Daisuke Wakabayashi reports for The New York Times. “These days, Apple’s automotive ambitions are more modest. The company has put off any notion of an Apple-branded autonomous vehicle and is instead working on the underlying technology that allows a car to drive itself.”
“A notable symbol of that retrenchment is a self-driving shuttle service that ferries employees from one Apple building to another,” Wakabayashi reports. “The shuttle, which has never been reported before, will likely be a commercial vehicle from an automaker and Apple will use it to test the autonomous driving technology that it develops.”
“Five people familiar with Apple’s car project, code-named ‘Titan,’ discussed with The New York Times the missteps that led the tech giant to move — at least for now — from creating a self-driving Apple car to creating technology for a car that someone else builds,” Wakabayashi reports. “The project’s reduced scale aligns Apple more closely with other tech companies that are working on autonomous driving technology but are steering clear of building cars… Apple’s testing vehicles will carry employees between its various Silicon Valley offices. The new effort is called PAIL, short for Palo Alto to Infinite Loop, the address of the company’s main office in Cupertino, Calif., and a few miles down the road from Palo Alto, Calif.”
“From the beginning, the employees dedicated to Project Titan looked at a wide range of details. That included motorized doors that opened and closed silently. They also studied ways to redesign a car interior without a steering wheel or gas pedals, and they worked on adding virtual or augmented reality into interior displays,” Wakabayashi reports. “Apple even looked into reinventing the wheel. A team within Titan investigated the possibility of using spherical wheels — round like a globe — instead of the traditional, round ones, because spherical wheels could allow the car better lateral movement. But the car project ran into trouble…”
Read more in the full article here.
MacDailyNews Take: So, Apple’s going to make a vehicle operating system and license it out to other companies because that’s what they do…. Oh, wait.
According to Wakabayashi’s report, “Steve Zadesky, an Apple executive who was initially in charge of Titan, wanted to pursue the semiautonomous option. But people within the industrial design team including Jonathan Ive, Apple’s chief designer, believed that a fully driverless car would allow the company to reimagine the automobile experience, according to the five people. Last year, Apple started to rein in the project. The company tapped Bob Mansfield, a longtime executive who over the years had led hardware engineering for some of Apple’s most successful products, to oversee Titan. Mr. Mansfield shelved plans to build a car and focused the project on the underlying self-driving technology.
We wonder, especially after looking at/ trying to use abominations like the Apple TV’s Siri Remote (that could’ve been designed by a random guy plucked off the street), is Jony more disappointed or pissed that he’s not going to get to build a car?
Or could this simply be that Apple wants to get the hard stuff (autonomous vehicle OS) done first and will wait do the easier stuff (vehicle hardware) later (based on when and if they succeed with the software)?
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