How the Apple Car turned into an Apple Shuttle Bus

24 August, 2017, 02:48 | Author: Delbert Rhodes
  • Apple reportedly working on self-driving employee shuttle for its campuses

According to the New York Times, some earlier Titan designs called for "spherical wheels" to replace regular tires, so cars could move laterally. After longtime Apple hardware executive Bob Mansfield took over the Titan project past year, he shifted its focus from building a vehicle to the technology behind it, the Times said.

This is not to say that self-driving shuttle is lame.

In the meantime, Apple is focusing on a self-driving campus shuttle called PAIL - short for "Palo Alto to Infinite Loop".

Apple is following the road taken by Google's Alphabet's Waymo, the autonomous vehicle subsidiary of Google-parent Alphabet, and downshifting on its still-unannounced self-driving auto project, according to a report in the New York Times. The company hired three former NASA engineers for Project Titan in April, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Under the leadership of veteran Apple executive Bob Mansfield and with the vision of Apple's chief design officer Jony Ive, the iCar sounds like it was going to be awesome.

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Apple's self-driving technology project, named Titan, began in 2014 with great ambitions. Engineers not only tried to write a "CarOS" to control autonomous vehicles, but investigated details like motorized doors and interior that featured augmented-reality displays, but lacked steering wheels and pedals. Just take out that steering wheel and those pedals, turn the chrome into matte black, and it could nearly be an Apple product.

But the spherical wheel quickly ran into trouble, hampered by the size of the vehicle and by the lack of an unified vision from the higher-ups at Apple, according to the report. A team within Titan investigated the possibility of using spherical wheels - round like a globe - instead of the traditional, round ones, because spherical wheels could allow the vehicle better lateral movement. That's just insane. It's certainly ambitious!

One of the major crisis was internal disagreements over whether the "Apple Car" should be a fully autonomous vehicle or semi-autonomous similar to Tesla's cars.

Fast forward to June 2017, the same Tim Cook said in a Bloomberg interview that Apple has put off any idea of Apple-branded vehicles and are instead "focusing on autonomous" system.

You can't feel too surprised, but it's OK if you feel disappointed. We are not really saying in a product point of view what we will do. For now, most of us are still stuck with our petrol-guzzling death machines.

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