Kunal KhullarOct 18, 2016 16:38:08 IST
The Apple Car has been a point of discussion ever since rumours started coming out back in 2014. Codenamed ‘Project Titan’ it is said to have hundreds of employees working on making the vehicle at a secret location near its Cupertino headquarters. There hasn’t been a lot of info around the car, but it is still in the early stages of development.
Here are some of the key developments that we seen so far...
Apple had started with about 200 employees working on the project. In early 2015, the company started recruiting automotive industry experts as well as car researchers with specialties in battery technology and autonomous systems.Some of the employees on the team had previously worked for companies like Tesla, Ford, and GM, while others have been recruited from smaller companies like A123 Systems, MIT Motorsports, Ogin, Autoliv, Concept Systems, and General Dynamics. Apart from recruiting the company was talking to carmakers and automotive suppliers.
Major recruitments from Tesla include former mechanical engineering manager David Nelson, former senior powertrain test engineer John Ireland, former Tesla head recruiter Lauren Ciminera, and former Tesla vice president Chris Porritt. Former Tesla senior CNC programmer David Masiukiewicz joined Apple in April 2016 who is said to be working on prototypes of parts for the Apple Car. Tesla Motors engineering manager Hal Ockerse worked on driver assistance system components; Subhagato Dutta, who worked on an automotive algorithm team at Texas Instruments; and Yakshu Madaan, who previously worked at Tata Motors, have also been rumoured to be on the team.
A bunch of Autonomous vehicles experts have also been mentioned to be working with Apple including Tesla Motors engineer Jamie Carlson, Paul Furgale and Jonathan Cohen, NVIDIA's former director of deep learning who worked on deep learning for NVIDIA's Drive NX platform.
The project was initially headed by Steve Zadesky, VP of Product Design, but back in January 2016, he left the company. Currently the project is said to led by Bob Mansfield and under his direction, Apple is said to be expanding its car project to focus more on autonomous driving systems.
Speaking of which, there were a bunch of rumours that Apple has been talking to BMW as well as Tesla, but nothing concrete has come out of it. There have been however employee acquisitions, and probably exchange of technology. Then there was the McLaren acquisition, which sounded like a far-fetched idea, but of course these rumours were turned down by the British carmaker itself. There was also a rumor that said Apple spoke to BMW about using the body of BMW’s i3 body as a base for the Apple Car which ended in disagreement.
According to a German newspaper Handelsblatt, Apple’s negotiations with BMW and Daimler back in April 2016 didn’t work out. Apple’s preference for storing vehicle data in the iCloud was a major issue for the carmakers, since the companies have put wireless security and customer data protection as a priority.
There was also a rumour that Apple is in talks with a South Korean company to supply battery technology for the Apple Car. Apple could be developing its own batteries based on a hollow battery technique, which are basically lithium-ion secondary batteries with a thickness of two fingers and hollow centers.
The project has seen some major ups and downs and there have been claims that it is going to be scraped sooner or later. Apart from reported delays, recent development has shown that Apple is now focusing more on software. This could potentially open up two segments in Project Titan, building a car and developing driving software. However, recently Apple had some major changes as dozens of employees in the project were laid off to focus on autonomous driving systems. Will Apple only stick to making software for autonomous cars? Has it finally given up on its dream? Time will tell.
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