Apple has apparently teamed up with the German automotive giant Volkswagen to manufacture self-driving vehicles that would ferry employees across its campuses. The Times details changes in direction and an overall lack of focus on the part of Apple stretching back to when Project Titan was first revealed in 2014.
Two former Apple employees also recalled how their colleagues built a model of an SUV with four seats facing each other, which some employees tested by sitting inside, similar to a design Mercedes advertised in 2015.
Apple enlisted software programmers, automotive engineers, rocket scientists and the industrial-design team of Apple's design chief, Jonathan Ive, to reimagine the vehicle. Some of the talks failed because automakers weren't willing to give Apple control over their data or the customer experience of their vehicles, while other deals fell through because the tech giant was looking for a better partner.
In 2016, it secured a permit for autonomous vehicle testing in California, leading to an increased testing fleet of 55 SUVs. The tech company is already off target, however, according to one former employee. The company is believed to have over 50 self-driving cars on the road in California. Both companies said, "Thanks, but no thanks".
Since a year ago, we have known that Apple's auto division, codenamed Project Titan, once aimed at makingboth the hardware and software for a new autonomous vehicle, had shifted gears to focus in the near-term on a shuttle service known as PAIL (Palo Alto to Infinite Loop).
Report: Apple to Make Self-Driving Shuttles From VW Vans
Then the American manufacturer also met Mercedes Benz and Nissan to partner with them but they couldn't struck the deal because of the same issue with BMW. The Volkswagen vans destined to become Apple shuttles will retain their original frame, chassis, and wheels.
Late past year, Apple found a partner in Volkswagen.
Along with Apple's comeuppance when it comes to self-driving technology, the larger story has been Silicon Valley's realization that manufacturing cars is much more complicated than building software or consumer electronics.
Observers said the fits and starts have most likely put Apple even further behind in the race toward the self-driving future.
It's unclear exactly when we can expect Apple to introduce the shuttle.