Apple is said to be working on an Apple Car under the code name Project Titan
Starting in 2014, Apple began working on “Project Titan,” with upwards of 1,000 employees working on developing an electric vehicle at a secret location near its Cupertino headquarters.
Apple has laid off hundreds of employees who were working on the project, and under the leadership of Bob Mansfield, Apple has transitioned to building an autonomous driving system rather than a full car.
By creating an autonomous driving system, Apple may be able to partner with existing car makers or return to its own car development project in the future, and it will be able to produce a product able to deeply integrate with iOS devices.
Apple has several teams working on different aspects of the software. In Canada, a team are helping to develop the base operating system, while another team works on developing the software that will run on it, such as a heads up display and self-driving capabilities.
In June of 2017, Apple CEO Tim Cook spoke publicly about Apple’s work on autonomous driving software, confirming the company’s work in a rare candid moment.
Apple doesn’t often share details on what it’s working on, but when it comes to the car software, it’s harder to keep quiet because of regulations.
Cook has also implied that its work on autonomous systems could potentially be used for other applications beyond cars. “Autonomous systems can be used in a variety of ways — a vehicle is only one, but there are many different areas of it. And I don’t want to go any further with that,” he said during a July 2017 earnings call.
In early 2017, Apple has been granted a permit from the California DMV to test self-driving vehicles on public roads, and is testing its self-driving car software platform in several 2015 Lexus RX450h SUVs leased from Hertz. The SUVs have been spotted out on the road with a host of sensors and cameras starting in April.
Apple has several of the Lexus SUVs outfitted with a range of different sensors running its self-driving software.
New LIDAR equipment was spotted in August of 2017 and Apple ramped up its fleet in 2018.
As of January Apple has 27 vehicles out on the road using its autonomous driving software.
Apple is also working on a self driving shuttle service called “PAIL,” an acronym for “Palo Alto to Infinite Loop.” The shuttle program will transport employees between Apple’s office in Silicon Valley. Apple is said to be planning to use a commercial vehicle from an automaker paired with its own autonomous driving technology for the shuttles.
Apple has asked the DMV to re-evaluate its rules requiring companies to provide detailed public reports about testing variables and results, likely in an effort to keep more of its testing concealed.
Apple is continuing to hire new employees as it redirects its focus, and Apple executives gave the car team until 2017 to prove the feasibility of an autonomous driving system.
As Apple’s cars are still on the road, presumably the project is moving forward. It is not clear if and when Apple will return to developing a full-blown car, nor is it known when Apple might have its driving system ready to ship.
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