Apple’s Mysterious Car Project

Apple's been busy working on an autonomous driving system.

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Apple's been busy working on an autonomous driving system.

Rumors have been circulating for the past several years about a secret car project that Apple is working on. The project is called Project Titan. Apple hopes this could launch the company into the autonomous vehicle market, reports The Motley Fool. Reports show that the company has pivoted from developing its own Apple branded cars to developing an autonomous driving system.

Some rumors state that Apple will be scaling back and perhaps has even scrapped its car ambitions. What does that leave for the latest news about Apple’s Project Titan? According to MacReports, this past July, Apple had permits to drive 66 autonomous vehicles on California’s roads. Records from the California Department of Motor Vehicles show that Apple has also been approved for 111 “safety drivers.” For those who are unaware what a safety driver is, a safety driver is the individual behind the wheel of these autonomous cars as they are being tested in order to take over if something does go wrong. Apple has thus far tested 27 autonomous vehicles.

John Gruber of technology blog Daring Fireball recently confirmed for followers that Apple’s former VP of Mac hardware engineering is returning to the company. Allegedly this return is due to his work on Apple’s Project Titan. Gruber was previously in charge of Tesla’s Model 3 production since 2013. Because of this, rumors have been going around that Apple is striving to develop its own vehicle to compete with Tesla. It seems as though they are, however, focusing on the autonomous driving system despite major setbacks in the past, as cited by The Motley Fool.

Apple’s management has spoken up about the Titan Project recently, breaking their reigning silence on the secretive work. Apple CEO Tim Cook told Bloomberg in 2017 that even though the initial purpose of autonomous systems is self driving vehicles, there are in fact other uses.

“Clearly, one purpose of autonomous systems is self-driving cars, there are others. And we sort of see it as the mother of all AI projects. It’s probably one of the most difficult AI projects to work on. So autonomy is something that is incredibly exciting for us. But we’ll see where it takes us. We’re not really saying from a product point of view what we’ll do. It’s a core technology that we view as very important.”

Cook did not precisely say what Apple has in store for its autonomous technology use. Besides the fact that it confirmed Apple was working on self-driving car hardware, a document filed by Apple also said that 5,000 employees know about the car project and that 2,700 of those are “core employees.”