Apple has long been an attraction to the automobile. Since 2014, rumors are part of an autonomous vehicle design project. A plan that faced many obstacles, and which led the brand to abandon their dream of making own Apple Car last year. The “Titan” project would have reoriented itself towards designing autonomous driving software for other manufacturers.
According to the New York Times, it is with Volkswagen that Apple has signed its first partnership. T6 Transporter vans should be turned into stand-alone shuttles for their employees, the large piece of land on which the head office of the tech giant is located requires such a solution. The newspaper claims to be aware of a confidential agreement between the two companies.
Volkswagen rather than BMW or Mercedes
Primarily, it is with BMW or Mercedes-Benz that Apple wished to collaborate. Despite discussions of more than a year, the brand faced too many differences. Apple and car manufacturers would not share the same vision for the collection of user data. They also met McLaren – a rumor announced the purchase of the English manufacturer by Apple a few months ago – but the two manufacturers would not have agreed to give full control of the software to Apple.
Finally, last year, Apple took advantage of the “weakness” of Volkswagen following the Diesel Gate to offer a partnership to the company. The German auto giant, whose research in autonomous cars have fallen behind those of competition, jumped at the chance and decided to trust Apple to catch up with its competitors.
According to the New York Times, vehicles created jointly by Apple and Volkswagen will be manufactured entirely by the German manufacturer. Apple will change the dashboard and seats of T6 Transporter, and add all the computer and sensory elements necessary for autonomous driving. The vans will then become transport shuttles for Apple employees located in Cupertino. Both Apple and Volkswagen have not officially confirmed yet, but some details have already been leaked.
The relaunch of the Titan project?
In 2016, faced with the successive failures of the Titan project, Apple would have released Bob Mansfield from his retirement, a veteran of the brand who had led the hardware engineering until 2012. At his controls, the project Titan would have gone from the ambitious dream of making a car at a software research lab.
The New York Times states in its article that Apple was working on windows that change colors automatically, rotating seats or a roof capable of absorbing the sun’s rays. The hardware team eliminated, all these projects would have been abandoned. Developing a complete car proved to be more difficult than Apple expected. That is why the focus shifted to another important component in the future of transport: software for self-driving cars.
Thanks to its partnership with Volkswagen, the members of the Titan team have something to dream about again. If successful autonomous shuttles, scheduled for late 2018 (although the delay may not be held according to former employees of Apple), the partnership could extend to Volkswagen production vehicles, and help Apple to become a real player in the automotive world. Hopefully, we will hear more soon!