This past week has been all abuzz with the word of Apple making a serious step into the self driving car arena. How serious of a step is it? Reports indicate that Apple has dedicated more than one hundred employees to the project, including several who worked in the automotive industry before moving to Apple. That’s a pretty serious investment, not just a fun side project if you ask me. There are several reports downplaying this, referring to multiple projects Apple has worked on and then decided not to bring to market. While it is possible this is just an experiment and a way for them to test other concepts integrating with cars, this seems like too big of an investment of resources.
Most reports say this will be an all electric vehicle, which isn’t surprising. Electric seems to be the sexiest thing right now, thanks to Tesla.
What it will look like is a big guess. They have some top car designers now working for Apple and based on Apple’s history of making their products look like art, I can’t wait to see what this car will ultimately look like. Some rumors say it will be more like a mini-van, but others point to models made by Marc Newson such as his Ford 021C orange car. To me, that car looks like a combination of the Flintstone’s and the Jetson’s cartoonish stylings.
Of course I’m most interested in the self-driving piece. Putting Apple software engineers on a task like that can only mean faster advancement of the technology. As mentioned in other articles, it may be government regulations that are holding up autonomous driving the most, but I think solid technology will ultimately push the regulations to approve safer modes of transportation.
I’ll keep this thread for any real details that emerge on the project.
For a while, it looked like Apple may be abandoning the self-driving car project as I had been hearing more and more reports of people leaving. There was a nice article in Bloomberg summarizing where things seem to stand at this point. It is true that hundreds of people left the team working on Project Titan – the Apple automotive project. The team is large at about 1000 employees and it seems like they had some pretty grand plans initially. Now the word is that they have scaled back their plans for now – focusing now on an autonomous vehicle software platform that can be implemented in other vehicles. It looks like they will work on developing the software and late in 2017 make a decision whether to partner with auto manufacturers or reconsider actually making their own vehicle.
Last week Apple finally applied for a permit to test self-driving vehicles in California. I’m not sure exactly what this means yet as I was under the impression they were moving more in the direction of being a software solution and not having their own self-driving vehicles. I’ll update as I get more information.