While it seems likely that it will still be a few years until we see any such vehicle on the road, a recent flurry of news indicates that not only are those plans very much real and ongoing, they may now even be accelerating.
The history bit…
Work on an Apple Car began in 2014, under the internal codename Project Titan. It is understood that at least 1,000 engineers are part of the efforts for the company to produce an electric vehicle, and that they are located at a secret site near Apple’s Cupertino headquarters. In typical Apple fashion, it not only wants to design a vehicle from scratch, it wants to dramatically shake up battery technology to reduce the cost and increase the range of the vehicle. (The cost, in particular, is still something of a mark against the most obvious direct rival – Tesla.)
In 2016, longtime Apple exec Bob Mansfield was lured out of semi-retirement and given the responsibility of leading Project Titan. However, it took until 2017 for Apple to really publicly acknowledge what it was working on. In June that year, CEO Tim Cook told Bloomberg that the company was “focusing on autonomous systems.” Cook said that this is “a core technology that we view as very important,” adding that “it’s probably one of the most difficult AI projects to work on.”
Earlier that year, Apple had received its first permits to actually road test vehicles, clearly a significant step.
The journey has been far from smooth though. Doug Field, another Apple veteran who went on to work at Tesla, returned in 2018 alongside Mansfield. Following his return, 190 people from the Project Titan team were laid off. Mansfield himself left in 2020, with Apple’s AI and machine learning boss John Giannandrea taking over.
Where are we now?
It was towards the end of 2020 that rumours and talk around Project Titan really picked up speed once again. This included speculation on a possible timeline within which we would actually get to see an Apple Car. The Reuters news agency reported both that Apple was working on automated vehicles and that it is aiming to produce a passenger vehicle by 2024.
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