Code-named Project Titan, Apple’s self-driving car is reportedly made and ready to roll. The Guardian has received files containing information about the tech giant’s automated vehicle attempt and the newspaper reports that Apple is currently looking for a suitable spot in which to test drive this innovative new vehicle.
The idea was thought to have been first suggested by the late Steve Jobs, but the development was then passed to the company’s new CEO Tim Cook when Jobs died. Cook passed responsibility for the project onto vice president Steve Zadesky, who also happened to be a former engineer for Ford.
Apple’s self-driving car latest news
21/06/2017: In an interview with Bloomberg TV, Apple boss Tim Cook has spoken about Apple’s secret autonomous car project, saying the company is focusing on autonomous systems, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the giant is only looking at cars. “There are others. We sort of see it as the mother of all AI projects,” he said.
The company is reportedly developing the technology to power automated vehicles, although Cook hasn’t ruled out the development of its own car yet.
He has previously explained the company wants to take on some of the biggest carmakers in the US’s car manufacturing hub – Detroit, but that focus has changed slightly since Bob Mansfield was put in charge of the company’s AI programme, shifting to put the development of AI as a whole at the centre of its strategy rather than only exploring car-based applications.
“We’re not really saying from a product point of view what we will do, but we are being straightforward that it’s a core technology that we view as very important,” added Cook.
These latest revelations by Cook would seemingly support the company’s focus as detailed in an open letter the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) last year, explaining the company wants to experiment with AI and machine learning , but won’t be limiting itself to just car tech.
“The company is investing heavily in the study of machine learning and automation, and is excited about the potential of automated systems in many areas, including transportation,” the letter said.
18/04/2017: The California Department of Motor Vehicle has given Apple to go-ahead for testing its autonomous cars on the streets of the state, suggesting an iCar is on its way.
The permit gives the company permission to test three driverless-equipped 2015 Lexus RX 450h hybrid SUVs and six drivers to test the cars.
However, Apple hasn’t commented on whether it would be launching the trials imminently or whether it’s just preparing for future trials.
“Apple is investing heavily in machine learning and autonomous systems,” the company said in statement last year. “There are many potential applications for these technologies, including the future of transportation.”
07/12/2016: Apple is advising the US government on its driverless car regulations, ensuring manufacturers don’t lose out, but users are always safe.
The company has apparently sent a letter to the head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, giving feedback on the government’s plans.
According to people familiar with the matter, it doesn’t provide any insights into Apple’s Project Titan autonomous car project, but it does say it “uses machine learning to make its products and services smarter, more intuitive, and more personal.
“The company is investing heavily in the study of machine learning and automation, and is excited about the potential of automated systems in many areas, including transportation.
Apple doesn’t say the regulations are bad, and it appreciates passengers must be protected against the dangers of driverless vehicles. In fact, it presents the argument that autonomous cars will actually make it safer for the public to venture out.
One of the points it obviously feels very passionate about is sharing data with companies about crashes and near misses, although it shouldn’t put the general public’s privacy at risk.
“Data should be sufficient to reconstruct the event, including time series of vehicle kinematics and characteristics of the roadway and objects,” the letter says “By sharing data, the industry will build a more comprehensive dataset than any one company could create alone.”
20/10/2016: Although it looks at though Apple won’t be launching its own autonomous car, but will instead be putting its technology into existing smart cars, one of its innovations is a key that can unlock the car with just your fingerprint.
Apple executives had imagined an electric car that could recognise its driver by fingerprint and autonomously navigate with the press of a button,” Bloomberg revealed. “One plan sought a partially autonomous car that still had a steering wheel and pedals, while later plans migrated toward a fully autonomous vehicle.”
The website said it would use the same TouchID technology as Apple’s smartphones, but it would be even smarter, because it would know where you want to go by who you are and other parameters such as the time.
For example, if you leave to go to work at the same time everyday, it will know you want to go to work when you unlock the car at a specific time, at which point it will autonomously take over the wheel to get you there on time.
02/08/2016: Apple will not make its own self-driving car according to sources, but will instead concentrate on developing technology that can be used by other companies to integrate into their own hardware.
According to Bloomberg, Dan Dodge, the former head of Blackberry’s automotive software division, has been signed up to work on the project, joining a number of ex-Tesla employees and two Ford engineers who all worked on autonomous vehicles.
“The initiative is now prioritizing the development of an autonomous driving system, though it’s not abandoning efforts to design its own vehicle,” Bloomberg reported after talking to a number of people involved in Project Titan. “That leaves options open should the company eventually decide to partner with or acquire an established car maker, rather than build a car itself.”
Project Titan, headed up by Bob Mansfield has apparently changed focus to make it easier for Apple to enter the automated vehicle market without having to risk a huge investment on producing an entire car, which would cost a lot more and take the manufacturer outside of its comfort zone.
“The products that are in R&D, there is quite a bit of investment in there for products and services that are not currently shipping or derivations of what is currently shipping,” Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook said in a conference call to discuss earnings Tuesday. “There’s a lot of stuff that we’re doing beyond the current products.”
Where will Project Titan be tested?
The Apple car has already been designed, according to Apple, but the next step is getting it tested in a real-life situation. Apple engineer Frank Fearon confirmed to The Guardian that Apple is, indeed, searching for a location where it can take Project Titan out on its maiden (or almost maiden, since it is to be assumed that it has already been tested in the factory) voyage.
According to The Guardian’s report, the San Francisco Bay area would be the preferred locale for Apple to test drives Project Titan, while members of Apple’s staff – namely, engineers – did meet with officials of GoMentum Station, which is a huge former naval base near San Francisco.
GoMentum is a 2,100-acre facility that has been used by a number of other car brands, such as Mercedes Benz and Honda to test their own automated cars, making it the perfect location for more trials.
Despite all this evidence that the San Francisco Bay area, and more specifically, the GoMentum Station, is where the car will be tested all of this is merely a possibility, Apple has not yet confirmed the location.
When will Project Titan launch?
An Apple automated vehicle is thought to be pencilled for launch in 2020 and Apple will be taking the marketing angle of the driverless car as the ultimate mobile device.