Apple's once ambitious self-driving car project, after years of speculation and changes, has been relegated to making driverless shuttles for employees with Volkswagen.
Project Titan, as Apple's efforts on self-driving car technology is known, still remains under wraps. However, a new report hints that Apple might be dialing down its lofty goals, partly because it was rejected by two other automobile manufacturers.
Apple, Volkswagen To Make Self-Driving Shuttles For Employees
Apple has entered a partnership with Volkswagen to transform the latter's T6 Transport vans into self-driving shuttles for its employees, according to a report from The New York Times.
There were reports that Apple has been working since last summer on a shuttle program named PAIL, or Palo Alto to Infinite Loop. Apple was said to be planning to install its self-driving technology in a commercial vehicle, which now turns out to be the Volkswagen T6 Transport vans.
The deal with Volkswagen for driverless employee shuttles, however, came after Apple experienced rejection. Apple first approached BMW and Mercedes-Benz on a possible partnership to develop an all-electric self-driving car, with the discussions lasting for the past several years. However, the negotiations ultimately failed because Apple wanted to have control of both design and data for the project.
The partnership with Volkswagen, meanwhile, is already not off to a good start. The report claimed that the project is behind schedule, and that it is consuming almost all of the attention of Apple's self-driving technology team.
The History Of Project Titan
The partnership with Volkswagen to create driverless shuttles for Apple employees reveals the further diminished scope of Project Titan, which reportedly once had the goal of creating self-driving cars on its own.
In October 2016, a report claimed that the Apple Car and Project Titan were headed down the gutter, with hundreds of layoffs in tow. This was just partly right though, as Apple has apparently ditched its plan to manufacture its own vehicle and shifted its focus to developing self-driving car technology.
A year after, the Apple self-driving car technology was spotted in the streets of Silicon Valley, though it looked kind of weird with the array of sensors attached to the roof of a Lexus RX. Earlier this month, Apple reportedly increased the number of its registered autonomous vehicles with the California Department of Motor Vehicles to 55 units.
Will the Volkswagen driverless employee shuttles be the final product of Project Titan? That remains to be seen, but they are likely not, given how much Apple has invested in its self-driving car technology.