Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman reports that Apple is accelerating the development of the Apple Car project. Under the leadership of the Apple Watch software executive Kevin Lynch, engineers are focused on bringing full self-driving capabilities to the car, so human intervention is not required.
Lynch picked up the project when former head Doug Field left Apple after three years of service, to join Ford. Lynch is the fifth executive to take over as the project’s lead in roughly seven years. He is pushing for full self-driving capabilities in the first version of the Apple Car. This is the latest shift in focus for the Special Projects Group or “Project Titan,” which has seen several strategy changes since 2014.
Citing unnamed sources, Gurman reported that Apple has reportedly set an internal target of launching its self-driving car in four years. However, the 2025 target is dependent on its ability to complete the ambitious self-driving system. The anonymous sources said that Apple has reached “key milestones” in developing the system and has completed “much of the core work.”
Detailing the chip that would enable the self-driving capability, Gurman said Apple’s silicon engineering group has developed it, and the processor isn’t exclusive for the car. He called it the Apple Car’s “most advance component” and noted that the processor could also require a sophisticated cooling system.
Gurman opined that the current electric vehicle market leader, Tesla, is “probably years away from offering fully autonomous cars.” He also noted that Alphabet Inc.’s Waymo suffered a “rash of departures” while Uber agreed to sell off its autonomous driving division last year.
Interiors Straight out of the Movies
Diving into interesting details, Gurman said one option discussed at Apple features a car interior similar to the Lifestyle Vehicle from Canoo Inc., where passengers sit along the car’s sides and face each other, like in a limousine. The iPhone maker is also reportedly exploring designs where the iPad-like infotainment system would be placed centrally so passengers can interact with it throughout the ride. Additionally, Gurman speculated that the car would feature heavy integration with Apple’s existing services and devices.
Rumor has it that Apple wants to do away with the conventional steering wheel entirely, although an emergency takeover mode should be available.
Partners and Hiring for the Road Ahead
Understandably, Apple would require partners and suppliers to develop a fully self-driving car by 2025. The company has reportedly discussed partnerships with several manufacturers and considered building the vehicle in the US. Safety reportedly remains a key priority. For this, Apple is looking to hire safety engineers, self-driving engineers, software engineers, and hardware engineers.
The company is also cherry-picking executives such as Tesla’s former self-driving software director CJ Moore, a climate system expert from Volvo, a manager from Daimler Trucks, a battery system engineer from Karma Automotive, and a senior engineer from GM, among other experienced professionals.
Do you think the Apple Car project will come to life, or will it just stay a rumor? Moreover, will Apple be able to accomplish its 2025 internal deadline?[Via Bloomberg]