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Apple vehicle project 'three years behind Google' as iPhone maker plays catch-up

25 August 2017, 01:46 | Melanie Burgess

Apple focusing on self-driving technology, not building cars: report

Apple self driving car

Automakers and tech companies are racing to develop the technology that will power self-driving cars in the coming years.

That project, which will use conventional cars with self-driving kit bolted on, is known as "Pail", standing for Palo Alto to Infinite Loop, the street address of the company's main campus.

The so-called "Apple Car" may never come to be, thanks in large part to a lack of agreement by Apple leadership as to what such a vehicle should do, reports the New York Times's Daisuke Wakabayashi. Some months ago, people were touting that the autonomous auto sector would be one of the most promising ones in Apple's repertoire.

Titan, started in 2014, includes many Apple veterans working alongside experts in vehicle building to bring Titan to fruition.

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Back in April, the California DMV granted Apple permission to test its autonomous system in three Lexus RX540h SUVs on the state's roads, one of which was reportedly spotted out in the wild - but the rumored shuttle service will probably look more like the University of Michigan's MCity shuttle program launching this school year.

We've heard for some time now that Apple had chose to get out of the game of trying to build an entire self-driving vehicle itself and was instead focusing on the software side of autonomous driving. The Times notes there were some cool ideas in the works, like globe-shaped wheels, adding augmented reality into interior displays, and the reinvention of cars to not have steering wheels or gas pedals. Executive Steve Zadesky, originally in charge of Titan, preferred to build a semi-autonomous vehicle, much as Tesla has now. This project was supposed to take on the automotive industry and remake Apple as something of a new Detroit. The scale of the project led to internal problems and discussions of Apple not having a clear path for Titan.

According to the Times, Project Titan was more than a trial-and-error tinkering project. In 2015, Apple gave more than 150 shuttle bus drivers a 25 percent increase in hourly wages and improved work conditions.

It is easier to use employees for the test rather than using actual members of the public, as that would require proper legal clearance and regulatory changes.



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