Apple is reportedly pushing to accelerate the development of its long touted electric car, and has apparently set a target date of 2025.
According to Bloomberg, which cited people familiar with the matter, Apple is also increasing its focus on full self-driving capabilities of the so called Apple Car.
It comes after Apple in December 2020 had set 2024 to produce a passenger vehicle, with a new battery design to ‘radically’ reduce cost and increase range.
But according to the Bloomberg report, Apple’s team for the past several years has explored two simultaneous paths.
The first path was to create a model with limited self-driving capabilities focused on steering and acceleration – similar to many current cars – or a version with full self-driving ability that doesn’t require human intervention.
But Apple’s Project Titan has endured plenty of challenges in recent years.
Apple’s Car Project has a new leader, namely Apple Watch software executive Kevin Lynch, who reports to Jeff Williams, Apple’s chief operating officer.
It comes Doug Field, who was vice president of special projects at Apple and in charge of Project Titan, departed Apple in September.
Field joined Ford as chief advanced technology and embedded systems officer.
Lynch meanwhile is pushing for a car with a full self-driving system in the first version, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the deliberations are private.
A spokesman for Apple declined to comment.
According to Bloomberg, Apple’s ideal car would have no steering wheel and pedals, and its interior would be designed around hands-off driving.
It should be remembered that the UK government is considering proposals that could allow the use of self-driving cars in the slow lane of UK motorways very soon.
In July 2020 Tesla CEO Elon Musk made a very bold prediction about the future of autonomous driving technology, when he said that Tesla is “very close” to achieving level 5 autonomous driving technology.
But in reality it seems that Tesla still has work to do in this regard.
Apple’s vision seems to be level 5 autonomous driving, which is the holy grail of autonomous driving technology, as level 5 vehicles will not require human intervention, and the need for a human drivers is eliminated.
Indeed, it is said that level 5 cars won’t even have steering wheels or acceleration/braking pedals.
These cars will be free from geofencing, and will be able to drive anywhere, and do anything that normal car with a human driver can do.
Bloomberg reported that Apple has also explored designs where the car’s infotainment system that would allow users interact with it throughout a ride. The car would also be heavily integrated with Apple’s existing services and devices.
Apple has also reportedly completed much of the core work on the processor it intends to eventually ship in the first generation of the car.
In addition, Apple is also reportedly actively looking to hire engineers to test and develop safety functions, as well as self-driving and car hardware engineers.
According to the report, Apple has recently hired CJ Moore, Tesla’s former self-driving software director.
Apple has also recently hired a climate system expert from Volvo, a manager from Daimler Trucks, battery systems engineers from Karma Automotive and other carmakers, a sensor engineer from General Motors Cruise, automotive safety engineers from companies like Joyson Safety Systems, and multiple other engineers from Tesla, according to information from LinkedIn and people with knowledge of the matter.
The company is also hiring software engineers to work on “experiences for human interaction with autonomous technology.
Whatever the truth, it is no secret that Apple has been developing Project Titan for many years now.
Ever since 2015, Apple had been rumoured to be releasing an electric car sometime in 2019.
Rumours were strengthened in July 2015 when CEO Tim Cook was in spotted in Germany, amid reports that Apple was close to agreeing a partnership with BMW.
Apple was reportedly at the time going to use the BMW i3 vehicle as the basis for its ‘Apple Car’.
That partnership would have solved the manufacturing issue, as Apple doesn’t actually make its own devices. Most of its iPhones for example are made by a third party (Foxconn etc).
Car makers on the other hand have their own purpose-built factories and build their own products, and the BMW tie up would have solved Apple’s lack of experience in building actual vehicles.
But in 2019 (the year when its first car was expected) Apple revealed it had scaled back its ambitions at Project Titan, and was laying off 190 people from the team.
In February this year, South Korean car maker Hyundai (which includes Kia) said it was not in talks with Apple to develop self-driving cars, despite media speculation.
And for Apple the challenges facing Project Titan only seem to be ramping up, as established car makers and new start-ups are chasing Tesla’s position in key markets such as China, US, and Europe.
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