Apple’s car project may have been shelved, indicates a report. However, it doesn’t mean the Cupertino-based company is completely giving up on entering the autonomous vehicle segment many of tech companies are investing.
According to a report by The New York Times that was based on anonymous sources, Apple may have gotten cold feet about self-driving vehicles. While there have never been any official confirmations from the company, a trio of employees who wished to remain anonymous claim the company is steadily scaling down the project. In accordance to the policy decision, the California-based company has even let go of several experts it had hand-picked over the last few years.
Apple is said to be shuttering parts of its ambitious self-driving car project, laying off dozens of employees https://t.co/KsipW4smat
— The New York Times (@nytimes) September 10, 2016
Apple has never openly acknowledged that it was building or investing in autonomous vehicles that navigate without needing human assistance. However, it has always been an open secret in the Silicon Valley. Even Apple CEO Tim Cook has occasionally dropped hints about the project.
Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla Motors, has repeatedly taken jibes about Apple’s car project in the past. He claimed the company had hired several dozen engineers from the automotive sector, including a few from Tesla Motors, to secretly work on an undisclosed automotive project with unspecified deadline. Officials in the San Francisco Bay Area fueled the speculation when they confirmed Apple had requested access to a former naval base that’s been converted into an automotive testing ground.
Many tech companies, besides Tesla Motors, are heavily invested in autonomous driving technology. While only Google Inc. successfully demonstrated its self-driving technologies, other companies are steadily developing their own prototypes. Hence it made perfect sense for Apple join the bandwagon.
— A.I.-Briefing (@ai_briefing) September 11, 2016
However, there have been consistent reports that Apple’s initial efforts to come up with a self-driving car suffered numerous setbacks. While there were reports of attrition at the management level, some experts indicated serious technical glitches were making Apple anxious about the car project.
Developing a vehicle is fraught with many challenges, including regulatory and legal issues which tech companies seldom encounter when designing smartphones or computers. Despite possessing some of the most brilliant minds in the automotive industry, Apple may have faced some incredibly complex challenges that might have forced the company to “rethink” its automotive strategy.
— PCMag (@PCMag) September 11, 2016
Is Apple scrapping its car project? While there has been never been any official confirmation that Apple is indeed making a self-driving vehicle, the company may have put a lot of resources into the pet project since so many of tech companies are trying to place their autonomous cars on America’s roads. Hence, it is highly unlikely Apple will ditch the car project completely.
It is quite likely Apple may have given up hope of coming up with a complete car design and instead will now develop technologies that can be fitted in commercial and passenger vehicles to make these automobiles smart. Companies like Google have been pushing their software and technologies in today’s vehicles. Products from tech companies are already deployed in the information and entertainment systems.
— Movie TV Tech Geeks (@movietvtechgeek) September 11, 2016
Interestingly, Google has a prototype of a self-driving car that is almost road-worthy. The car can intelligently decipher obstacles and road signs. Still, the tech giant indicated it is more inclined to partner with an established automaker. It is possible Apple is taking the same approach.
The Tesla Model X is one of the newest breed of self-driving cars that are truly autonomous. However, that hasn’t stopped leading carmakers from setting Research and Development (R&D) facilities in Silicon Valley to cut short the time to launch their own variants of self-driving vehicles. It is quite likely Apple may eventually partner with one of these companies and co-develop a sleek autonomous car with voice-activation by Siri, codenamed Project Titan.
[Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images]