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Apple has signed a deal with Volkswagen to use Volkswagen vans as self-driving shuttles designed to transport employees around its various campuses and office buildings in the San Francisco Bay Area, reports The New York Times.

Apple has been working on developing the shuttle program, called "PAIL" or Palo Alto to Infinite Loop, since last summer. At the time news of Apple's work on the program first surfaced, the company was said to be planning to install its own self-driving software in a commercial vehicle from an automaker, which has turned out to be Volkswagen.

applelexusselfdriving1-800x521.jpg
One of the Lexus SUVs Apple uses to test its autonomous driving software​

Under the terms of the deal, T6 Transporter vans from Volkswagen will be turned into self-driving shuttles for employees.

Apple's self-driving shuttle program is said to be behind schedule and "consuming nearly all of the Apple car team's attention," hinting at ongoing problems on its car-related project, which has already been scaled back.

Apple originally had grander plans for autonomous vehicles and over the course of the past several years, attempted to ink deals with companies like BMW and Mercedes-Benz, which would have led to the development of an all-electric autonomous vehicle.

According to today's report, no deal was able to be established because Apple was asking potential partner companies to "hand over control" of data and design, something no car manufacturer was prepared to do.

When its grandiose self-driving vehicle plans fell through, Apple shifted focus to autonomous driving software under the leadership of Bob Mansfield.

Apple is now working on its shuttle program and has been testing several Lexus SUVs equipped with self-driving hardware and software out on the streets of Cupertino and surrounding areas. Beyond the shuttle plan, Apple is said to have no clear idea of what it's going to do with its autonomous driving project.

Article Link: Apple Inks Deal With Volkswagen for Self-Driving Employee Shuttles
 

shareef777

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Kinda strange they went with VW if their initial choices were Mercedes and BMW. You'd think they'd try with Audi, Lexus, Acura, or some other luxury brand. I've always seen VW cars as kinda vanilla. Not bad cars, but they don't really include the design/tech that you'd expect out of Apple.
 
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brendu

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This is super interesting. It lets Apple continue to develop their self driving technology in a more restricted but useful manner. I think eventually Apple will sell off their self driving tech because they aren’t going to make a car themselves and can’t get automakers to
give them enough control. I don’t see how Apple can make themselves a major player in the self driving car market but I could see them developing the tech to the point a major player or group of players decides to buy it.
[doublepost=1527116528][/doublepost]
Kinda strange they went with VW if their initial choices were Mercedes and BMW. You'd think they'd try with Audi, Lexus, Acura, or some other luxury brand. I've always seen VW cars as kinda vanilla. Not bad cars, but they don't really include the design/tech that you'd expect out of Apple.

They are shuttles (big vans). Nothing luxurious about public transit no matter how you paint it.
 
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Relentless Power

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Jul 12, 2016
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Ive been a VW driver since 1998. They took some well deserved heat from the diesel scandal as they should. But for the money I won't drive anything else.

And their cars get better and better.

The reliability factor is their. German engeering At its finest. I honestly I am curious to see where this goes.
 
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stevensr34

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Nov 29, 2007
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Until someone figures out how to do human intelligence properly, autonomous vehicles will only really be a type of "Intelligent cruise control" which is nowhere near "self-driving".

They have to be an order of magnitude BETTER than human drivers before the application becomes worthwhile. Otherwise it is a pointless exercise.
 
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Rogifan

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Nov 14, 2011
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Kinda strange they went with VW if their initial choices were Mercedes and BMW. You'd think they'd try with Audi, Lexus, Acura, or some other luxury brand. I've always seen VW cars as kinda vanilla. Not bad cars, but they don't really include the design/tech that you'd expect out of Apple.

If you read the article Mercedes and BMW wouldn’t give Apple the control they wanted. If they wouldn’t then for sure other luxury makes weren’t going to sign on to essentially be a contract manufacturer for Apple. According to the story this is a scaled down project for vans to shuttle employees around campuses. No beautifully designed luxury vehicle is needed for that. And apparently this project is behind schedule and there doesn’t appear to be a plan beyond it.

My guess is either Apple decides to bite the bullet and go all in on their own vehicle or they kill the project.
[doublepost=1527118351][/doublepost]
This is super interesting. It lets Apple continue to develop their self driving technology in a more restricted but useful manner. I think eventually Apple will sell off their self driving tech because they aren’t going to make a car themselves and can’t get automakers to
give them enough control. I don’t see how Apple can make themselves a major player in the self driving car market but I could see them developing the tech to the point a major player or group of players decides to buy it.

Why would Apple spend all this time developing this technology only to sell it off to someone else? And since pretty much every auto maker is working on their own tech why would they buy Apple’s?
 
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shareef777

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This is super interesting. It lets Apple continue to develop their self driving technology in a more restricted but useful manner. I think eventually Apple will sell off their self driving tech because they aren’t going to make a car themselves and can’t get automakers to
give them enough control. I don’t see how Apple can make themselves a major player in the self driving car market but I could see them developing the tech to the point a major player or group of players decides to buy it.
[doublepost=1527116528][/doublepost]

They are shuttles (big vans). Nothing luxurious about public transit no matter how you paint it.

Wasn't aware of any VW van that's available in the US. Assumed they meant SUV, and hence why I mentioned the other brands.
 
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EdT

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They can’t even make my iPhone bug free. As if I’m ever going to trust their driverless car software.
(That goes for all tech companies and all driverless cars as well).

But all of the other human drivers on the road.... they are completely trustworthy.

Even a failure rate of 10 out of 100,000 which will probably be extremely high for self driving vehicles from anyone, would be a vast improvement over human drivers in most cities. Most cities have fatality rates in the 10 to 20 per 100,000. Fatalities, not just accidents. I'm willing to put money that driverless cars are a lot less.

My Source.

That is, of course, when they figure out how to make driverless cars navigate on snow covered roads. I think they are actually 10 years or more away from that.
 
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trusso

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Oct 4, 2003
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Not the only company this can be said about, but Apple has lost its focus. This self-driving car baloney is evidence of that. Let the automobile manufacturers worry about vehicles, and let the computer companies focus on computers. Apple is stretching itself way too thin, with hands in multiple cookie jars: automobiles, media production, smart devices... oh, and maybe a couple of computers, if they have the time. It's greed and hubris, plain and simple; Apple's eyes are too big for its stomach.

Not to mention, no one has made a valid argument for what's so great about self-driving cars anyhow. For all the complaining people do about the dangers of humans behind the wheel, I don't see how computers are an improvement. The human brain is still light-years ahead of the most advanced electronic circuits in its ability to comprehend, adjust and integrate the multitude of information received when driving a vehicle (or performing any other complex task). For all its potential shortcomings, I'd trust my life to human judgement than a machine algorithm any day.
 
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Tozovac

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Jun 12, 2014
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They can’t even make my iPhone bug free. As if I’m ever going to trust their driverless car software.
(That goes for all tech companies and all driverless cars as well).

I would have trusted Apple before 2013, when Apple cared more about the driving function than about the appearance of phone as it's stared at while driving down the road.
 
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Tozovac

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Jun 12, 2014
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Not the only company this can be said about, but Apple has lost its focus. This self-driving car baloney is evidence of that. Let the automobile manufacturers worry about vehicles, and let the computer companies focus on computers. Apple is stretching itself way too thin, with hands in multiple cookie jars: automobiles, media production, smart devices... oh, and maybe a couple of computers, if they have the time.

And fashion instead of function, don't forget...
 
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EdT

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Not the only company this can be said about, but Apple has lost its focus. This self-driving car baloney is evidence of that. Let the automobile manufacturers worry about vehicles, and let the computer companies focus on computers. Apple is stretching itself way too thin, with hands in multiple cookie jars: automobiles, media production, smart devices... oh, and maybe a couple of computers, if they have the time. It's greed and hubris, plain and simple; Apple's eyes are too big for its stomach.

Not to mention, no one has made a valid argument for what's so great about self-driving cars anyhow. For all the complaining people do about the dangers of humans behind the wheel, I don't see how computers are an improvement. The human brain is still light-years ahead of the most advanced electronic circuits in its ability to comprehend, adjust and integrate the multitude of information received when driving a vehicle (or performing any other complex task). For all its potential shortcomings, I'd trust my life to human judgement than a machine algorithm any day.


I'll agree with the car makers building driverless cars. But the benefits would be substantial for society if this can be done on a practical economic basis. It could allow people who are unable to drive, for whatever reason, a way to stay in their homes instead of having to sell. Think of someone who has to move into an assisted living facility because they can't get to a doctors office. This usually destroys whatever savings that person had for retirement. It could lessen the number of drunk drivers, and depending on how it's implemented it could make cities more navigable and reduce morning and evening traffic jams. This in turn could reduce repair costs and city budgets for street repairs and improvements, such as expanding the number of lanes because of traffic volume.
 
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brendu

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Why would Apple spend all this time developing this technology only to sell it off to someone else? And since pretty much every auto maker is working on their own tech why would they buy Apple’s?

Because it’s better. Otherwise they wouldn’t buy it. I still don’t really understand why Apple is still in this game unless they think they have something automakers will want. They are either making a self driving car or they plan to sell their tech to someone.
[doublepost=1527120016][/doublepost]
Wasn't aware of any VW van that's available in the US. Assumed they meant SUV, and hence why I mentioned the other brands.
Gotcha. Yeah, I don’t think VW has any consumer vans for purchase in the US. I wonder if VW is looking to get in with apple’s tech for future projects of theirs like the ID Buzz.
 
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flyinmac

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Seems to conflict with the idea of getting people off their butt and moving.

I’d rather walk than be shuttled around campus.
 
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EdT

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Because it’s better. Otherwise they wouldn’t buy it. I still don’t really understand why Apple is still in this game unless they think they have something automakers will want. They are either making a self driving car or they plan to sell their tech to someone.
[doublepost=1527120016][/doublepost]
Gotcha. Yeah, I don’t think VW has any consumer vans for purchase in the US. I wonder if VW is looking to get in with apple’s tech for future projects of theirs like the ID Buzz.

In a perfect world I would agree with you, but nearly every medium to large company suffers from NIH syndrome (not invented here) and will throw money re-inventing the wheel- that's a joke son- rather than license a valid solution from what they perceive as a competitor.
 
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StoneJack

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Dec 19, 2009
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this is the future. Big three:
AI, big data and thin client, only in a car.
Just a continuation of Big three on mobile.
 
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