It seems like Apple just couldn’t stay out of the news this week. Last week was Apple’s 2017 Developers Conference, and they announced a ton of updates and products of varying interest. However, it seemed like this little tidbit got left out. Apparently making a home system isn’t the only thing that Apple has jumped into late as the company’s newest focus is now on developing an autonomous system for cars.
Companies wanting to develop an AI for a car isn’t something new. In fact two years ago Google announced their development for their autonomous car prototype. Other companies such as Lyft are also on the rise for developing self-driving cars. Even Elon Musk has a hand in developing autonomous vehicles, and he’s busy trying to get into mother flipping space! However, Apple, while initially began seeking to build their car, have recently changed to prioritize the underlying technology for autonomous driving over the actual car itself. “It’s a core technology that we view as very important,” said Tim Cook, Apple Inc.’s Chief Executive Officer, “[it’s] probably one of the most difficult AI projects to work on.”
Back in 2014, Apple had hired more than 1,000 engineers to work on Project Titan, the internal name of the car team. Since then, costs skyrocketed for the project, forcing the company to give the reins of Titan to Apple veteran Bob Mansfield in 2016. In April of 2016, Apple received a permit from the California Department of Motor Vehicles to test three self-driving sports-utility vehicles, and they’ve spent the better part of a year testing the technology on public roads.
However, even though their prototypes have been in the field for a little over a year now, there still isn’t a lot that’s gone public about the system itself and how it’s fared. On top of that, Cook himself has been self-assured about the prospects of electric vehicles, which might mean that even though they have currently moved away from building their own car, Apple may still try to design one in the future. On the other hand, Cook is also very skeptical of the rise of this technology of self-driving cars, as well as electric vehicles and ride-hailing services. “There is a major disruption looming there,” Cook said, “You’ve got kind of three vectors of change happening generally in the same time frame.”
Apple invested $1 billion in Didi Chuxing, a Chinese ride-hailing service. While the happened around the same time that Mansfield took over the project, this may also be a response to Lyft’s announcement of making self-driving cars in approximately five years in hopes to maybe scare them out of the competition.
It seems like, at the moment, Apple doesn’t know exactly what they want, but they still don’t want to be left out of the current innovation trend. But who knows, maybe they will actually put out an exciting product in the future.
Sam is a GTA- based freelance Writer and Graphic Artist.While she's new to the tech world she's had the opportunity to write for various publications. She has spent 5 years of her life dedicated to making people laugh via her comic Let’s Ask Violet.Originally, Sam submitted a drawing of herself in a giant purple dinosaur costume terrorizing Toronto, but the editors realized that there is such a thing as "too awesome", and asked requested a normal photo instead.