Apple gives up on self-driving vehicle, builds bus instead

Posted August 24, 2017

In the meantime, the company is focusing on a self-driving campus shuttle, codenamed PAIL - short for "Palo Alto to Infinite Loop". Following a debate on whether the company should produce a fully or partially autonomous vehicle, Titan was eventually reined in, with emphasis put on software and systems, while staff was reduced. Project Titan, which has been long-rumored but completely unconfirmed by Apple, was reportedly focused on building an entire Apple Car from the ground up. It's a futuristic bus that drives itself!

In July 2016, the Special Projects team was reorganized under a new leader, Bob Mansfield.

Yet according to The New York Times, when Project Titan started in 2014, the intention was indeed to develop a vehicle. Ever since the original iPhone changed the mobile landscape 10 years ago, Apple has been under pressure to produce the "next big thing". This is evidently what will be powering the shuttle, and Apple presumably hopes the software will also find its way into cars designed and built by automotive companies like, well, Mercedes.

When Apple executive Bob Mansfield was put in charge of the Titan project, he shelved plans to build a auto, laid off some of the hardware staff, and refocused the project on the underlying self-driving technology. Engineers not only tried to write a "CarOS" to control autonomous vehicles, but investigated details like motorized doors and interior that featured augmented-reality displays, but lacked steering wheels and pedals. The name highlights the delays in the project, since Apple's main campus is already in the process of being moved to Apple Park, an enormous ring-shaped office down the road. The shuttle will be used as a form of testing for Apple and will match what other companies, including Waymo and Cruise, have done to test and flawless their technologies. Time will tell if Apple will be the one to make that revolution happen.

The disputes didn't stop there, according to the five unnamed Apple insiders, the next one was over whether self-driving software should be programmed in Apple's own programming language Swift, or the industry standard, C++. The company hired three former NASA engineers for Project Titan in April, according to the Wall Street Journal. We are not really saying in a product point of view what we will do. Apple has grown too big to be operated like a startup, moreover, the company is desperate to create the next big thing, as now, more than 50% of its profit comes from iPhone sales alone, which is in decline.