After being rejected by luxury car manufacturers such as BMW and Mercedes-Benz, Apple has ended by signing an agreement with the German Volkswagen for its most immediate and tangible project in terms of autonomous driving: the small autonomous vehicles that will transport their employees between Company facilities.
In Cupertino, they had strong hopes for the idea of an electric car with an autonomous driving system a few years ago. Their aspirations were great and they wanted to lead in the future a new form of mobility. However, it would have been an ambitious sin.
‘Project Titan‘, whose first information we had in 2015, had to change course and park the development of an autonomous vehicle for the general public. Apple would focus on launching software for autonomous driving and, subsequently, creating a shuttle of small autonomous vehicles to transport its staff between offices in Silicon Valley. And in it they are.
A fleet of autonomous vans to move their employees
For their plan to transport employees through an autonomous shuttle, those in Cupertino sought to associate with a traditional vehicle manufacturer according to various information. With this strategic partnership, they would develop the microbuses of the PAIL program (Palo Alto to Infinite Loop), as the initiative is known internally. Apple, when the news broke, refused to comment on it.
Now, according to The New York Times, Apple has signed an agreement with Volkswagen to convert some of the new Transporter T6 vans into autonomous shuttles for company employees. The project is late and consumes almost all the attention of Apple’s car team, according to several sources familiar with the initiative.
BMW and Mercedes-Benz, the first options contemplated by Apple according to the sources, would have rejected Cupertino’s requirements to deliver control of the data and design.
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The American newspaper that reveals the information assures that the agreement with Volkswagen, of which nothing was known to date, and the failure of the talks with the other two manufacturers “reflect the continuing headaches and the diminishing scope of the program of an automobile. ” As was also reflected, a couple of years ago, the hundreds of departures of workers with a peak of more than 1,000 members, according to five former employees quoted by The New York Times.
These added, according to the media, that the current project of Apple lacks a clear plan beyond the vans, including any short-term business objective. Despite everything, Apple has 55 autonomous cars registered in the Department of Motor Vehicles, a figure that leaves behind Waymo or Tesla and only surpasses General Motors with its Cruise project.
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