Two years ago, Apple had 1,000 or more people working on its autonomous car program which is named “Project Titan”. It even hired a top software engineer who was deeply involved in Tesla’s Autopilot program. Later on Project Titan down and either reassigned most of its staff to other duties or let them go entirely.
After years of trying to interest Mercedes and BMW in building a self-driving car featuring Apple software, the company has settled for converting Volkswagen T6 vans into semi-autonomous vehicles to shuttle Apple employees between campuses.
Apple switched its approach to finding an automotive company to build the car, but that effort was stymied by conflicts between the tech company and prospective manufacturers. The company contracted with Volkswagen on T6 Transporter for Project Titan.
Available with various gasoline and diesel engines, the T6 has been converted to a fully electric vehicle with Level 3 autonomy for Volkswagen’s MOIA ride sharing service in Hamburg, Germany. The vans will be used to shuttle Apple employees between company campuses. They will have a human driver behind the wheel at all times and a second engineer in the passenger seat.
From all available reports, Apple today is where Waymo was 3 or more years ago. The race to develop self-driving cars is heating up and Apple seems to be far behind the leaders. Just this week, we reported that Mobileye has received an order for 8 million self-driving systems from an unnamed German auto maker. Before that, we took a look at self-driving companies in China that are aggressively pushing the envelope. Any pretense by Apple of being a leader in the field has now passed it by. At least these shuttle vans won’t be powered by internal combustion engines.