Apple has decided to shift its end goals in the self-driving technology arena. Apple will no longer work on building a fully contained self-driving vehicle, but will instead work on the underlying technology.
According to the New York Times, the company was forced to curb its ambitions once realizing that the massive scale of the project cannot plausibly be continued without some cutbacks. This aligns Apple with most other companies working on self-driving technology. Many of them have often claimed that they will not be building self-driving vehicles themselves but simply the software that will run those vehicles.
Apple plans to test their self-driving technology on an shuttle service exclusively for their employees. This service, named PAIL, which stands for Palo Alto to Infinite Loop, will transport employees between the many Apple offices in Silicon Valley.
Apple’s self-driving technology project, named Titan, began in 2014 with great ambitions. The company hired many industry veterans, including engineers who specialized in building cars. Apple is known for their complete control of every aspect the products they build. Every facet of a device or technology spends in years in research and testing before they are merged to form a fully contained and fully owned Apple product. A similar approach was used for their self-driving technology, but the size of the project and lack of clearly defined end goals meant that such an approach would not work this time.
The man behind the change seems to be Bob Mansfield. He laid off several employees with expertise in hardware and car production and replaced them with those specializing in autonomous systems.
In April, the California DMV granted Apple a permit to test their autonomous technology using three Lexus vehicles. With the new and clearly defined goals, the team says it is ready to tackle the project with renewed enthusiasm.