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Original poster
Apr 12, 2001
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Apple is planning to develop a self-driving shuttle service that will transport Apple employees from one building to another as part of its autonomous vehicle efforts, reports The New York Times in a piece that explores why Apple scaled back its car ambitions.

Apple's "open secret" car project shifted focus from a full autonomous vehicle to an autonomous driving system last year, and to test that system, Apple will reportedly use employee shuttles.

appleautonomousdrivingtestlexus-800x450.jpg
One of the Lexus SUVs Apple is currently using to test its autonomous driving software​

Called "PAIL," an acronym for "Palo Alto to Infinite Loop," the shuttle program will transport employees between Apple's myriad offices in Silicon Valley. Apple is said to be planning to use a commercial vehicle "from an automaker" paired with its own autonomous driving technology for the shuttles.

Five Apple employees familiar with Apple's car project spoke to The New York Times about the shuttle program and also shared some details about the technologies Apple explored before the project was downscaled from car to software.

When Apple first started exploring car technology under the "Project Titan" name, it hired hundreds of people with expertise in everything from automation to car manufacturing. The team explored a wide range of technologies, including silent motorized doors, car interiors sans steering wheel or gas pedals, augmented reality displays, an improved LIDAR sensor that protrudes less from the top of a car, and spherical wheels.
Apple even looked into reinventing the wheel. A team within Titan investigated the possibility of using spherical wheels -- round like a globe -- instead of the traditional, round ones, because spherical wheels could allow the car better lateral movement.
As has been previously reported, Apple's car project suffered from delays, internal strife, and leadership issues. According to the people who spoke to The New York Times, there was no clear vision for the Apple Car and there were internal disagreements over whether Apple should pursue an autonomous vehicle or a semiautonomous vehicle and what language should be used for the CarOS software (Swift or C++).

Steve Zadesky, who initially led Project Titan but stepped down in early 2016, pushed for a semiautonomous vehicle, while Jony Ive's industrial design team wanted an autonomous vehicle that would "allow the company to reimagine the automobile experience."

Bob Mansfield took over the car project in mid-2016, and the project shifted from vehicle to software. Many members of the hardware team were laid off, but morale is said to have improved under his leadership now that Apple has a clear focus on an autonomous driving system.

Apple is now far enough along in its software development that the company is testing it in several 2015 Lexus RX450h vehicles equipped with a host of sensors and cameras. The vehicles have been out on the roads in the Cupertino area since April. It's not yet clear when Apple plans to expand that testing to encompass the campus shuttles.

Back in June, Apple CEO Tim Cook spoke publicly about Apple's work on autonomous driving software in a rare candid moment. "We're focusing on autonomous systems. It's a core technology that we view as very important," he said. "We sort of see it as the mother of all AI projects. It's probably one of the most difficult AI projects actually to work on."

Article Link: Apple Developing Self-Driving Campus Shuttle Service as Part of Scaled Back Car Effort
 

Appleaker

macrumors 68020
Jun 13, 2016
2,197
4,191
It would have been exciting to see the designs they had in mind as well as physical models.
Nevertheless it'll be interesting to see the final implementation with this "commercial vehicle" "from an automaker".
 

MNJohn

macrumors regular
May 16, 2014
194
487



Apple is planning to develop a self-driving shuttle service that will transport Apple employees from one building to another as part of its autonomous vehicle efforts, reports The New York Times in a piece that explores why Apple scaled back its car ambitions.

Apple's "open secret" car project shifted focus from a full autonomous vehicle to an autonomous driving system last year, and to test that system, Apple will reportedly use employee shuttles.

appleautonomousdrivingtestlexus-800x450.jpg

One of the Lexus SUVs Apple is currently using to test its autonomous driving software
Called "PAIL," an acronym for "Palo Alto to Infinite Loop," the shuttle program will transport employees between Apple's myriad offices in Silicon Valley. Apple is said to be planning to use a commercial vehicle "from an automaker" paired with its own autonomous driving technology for the shuttles.

Five Apple employees familiar with Apple's car project spoke to The New York Times about the shuttle program and also shared some details about the technologies Apple explored before the project was downscaled from car to software.

When Apple first started exploring car technology under the "Project Titan" name, it hired hundreds of people with expertise in everything from automation to car manufacturing. The team explored a wide range of technologies, including silent motorized doors, car interiors sans steering wheel or gas pedals, augmented reality displays, an improved LIDAR sensor that protrudes less from the top of a car, and spherical wheels.As has been previously reported, Apple's car project suffered from delays, internal strife, and leadership issues. According to the people who spoke to The New York Times, there was no clear vision for the Apple Car and there were internal disagreements over whether Apple should pursue an autonomous vehicle or a semiautonomous vehicle and what language should be used for the CarOS software (Swift or C++).

Steve Zadesky, who initially led Project Titan but stepped down in early 2016, pushed for a semiautonomous vehicle, while Jony Ive's industrial design team wanted an autonomous vehicle that would "allow the company to reimagine the automobile experience."

Bob Mansfield took over the car project in mid-2016, and the project shifted from vehicle to software. Many members of the hardware team were laid off, but morale is said to have improved under his leadership now that Apple has a clear focus on an autonomous driving system.

Apple is now far enough along in its software development that the company is testing it in several 2015 Lexus RX450h vehicles equipped with a host of sensors and cameras. The vehicles have been out on the roads in the Cupertino area since April. It's not yet clear when Apple plans to expand that testing to encompass the campus shuttles.

Back in June, Apple CEO Tim Cook spoke publicly about Apple's work on autonomous driving software in a rare candid moment. "We're focusing on autonomous systems. It's a core technology that we view as very important," he said. "We sort of see it as the mother of all AI projects. It's probably one of the most difficult AI projects actually to work on."

Article Link: Apple Developing Self-Driving Campus Shuttle Service as Part of Scaled Back Car Effort

Behind Tesla, Mercedes, rest of the world much? What a joke of a program...
 
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mistasopz

macrumors 6502
Apr 14, 2006
378
1,569



Apple's "open secret" car project shifted focus from a full autonomous vehicle to an autonomous driving system last year, and to test that system, Apple will reportedly use employee shuttles.

appleautonomousdrivingtestlexus-800x450.jpg

One of the Lexus SUVs Apple is currently using to test its autonomous driving software
Called "PAIL," an acronym for "Palo Alto to Infinite Loop," the shuttle program will transport employees between Apple's myriad offices in Silicon Valley.

Article Link: Apple Developing Self-Driving Campus Shuttle Service as Part of Scaled Back Car Effort


PAIL? More like FAIL. We all saw how Apple Maps turned out... I'm not getting within 100 feet of any Apple autonomous cars. They need to stick to improving macOS and making "pro" products again.
 
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Defthand

macrumors 65816
Sep 1, 2010
1,351
1,712
Kudos to Apple for taking a scaled-downed approach and avoiding the potential disappointment of another “not ready for primetime” product as happened with Maps and Siri. Joe Public still has reservations about the technology. Maybe if it proves reliable and likeable with commercial use vehicles first, the public will be more trusting.
 

diegov12

macrumors member
Dec 29, 2015
93
184
PAIL? More like FAIL. We all saw how Apple Maps turned out... I'm not getting within 100 feet of any Apple autonomous cars. They need to stick to improving macOS and making "pro" products again.
I'd rather see them invest in other markets.
Rather than focus on a small minority of "pro" users.
 

Analog Kid

macrumors 604
Mar 4, 2003
7,580
8,477
Want to know how much confidence Apple has in their tech? Check if they let executives use the shuttle...
 

busyscott

macrumors regular
Sep 29, 2015
184
1,595
California
Yikes! Sounds like the project got away from them. Perhaps they bit off a bit more than they could chew with this one?

Either that or they knew they couldn't live up to the MASSIVE "Apple Car" hype, so they toss this article to the New York Times to burst the bubble of all us fanboys while secretly still working on it? Here's to hoping!
 

citysnaps

macrumors G4
Oct 10, 2011
10,375
22,530
Funny that people are expecting Apple to go public with their plans. And because they won't, assume that whatever it is they're working on is a failure.
 

Rogifan

macrumors Core
Nov 14, 2011
23,518
29,830
This project is turning out to be a dud. Plus most automakers are working on their own technology so why would they need Apple’s? And I wonder how long these employees will be at Apple now that they’ve leaked to the NY Times.
 
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