Apple Re-Evaluates Self-Driving Car, In Talks with Car Manufacturers about Driving Platform Development

Due to advantages demonstrated by other technological competitors, Apple seems to be reconsidering how to move forward, or whether they should even more forward at all, with its self-driving car initiative. Originally given the name Titan, the project has made little progress in the last two years or so, further proven by the termination of dozens of employees as cited by three individuals informed of the current situation who were not allowed to speak to the public.

Competition against tech companies such as Alphabet, the parent company of Google; Otto, the Uber-owned start-up; and automotive giants like Ford, GM, and Fiat Chrysler presents a hard road ahead, but Apple's secrecy about the current project under Tim Cook and Bob Mansfield leave the public in the dark about its next step. A shift in the project's motive under Mansfield comes from focusing on the vehicle itself to the underlying technology that would be incorporated into the car itself.

Prevalence of Google Maps, Streetview Poses Threat to Traditional Automotive Players

To emphasize one particular competitor, Google and its seemingly limitless array of technology currently has the most experience in the industry. Although it has been labelled as a "disruptive player"  by the College of Engineering at the University of California, Berkeley, in this autonomous automotive movement, meaning it does not traditionally hold expertise in the industry, it has constructed "the world’s largest traffic jam surveillance network by providing the operating system for some 500+ million smart phones." Utilization of this network has resulted in the company's own Streetview cars driving five million miles in over 50 countries.

Current Automotive Giants Continue Preparation for Future of Autonomous Vehicles

Ford and GM reportedly have systems such as Traffic Jam Assist and Super Cruise, respectively, in production, but the chance of completion by the original release dates appears to be waning. Originally set for release between 2015 and 2017 (7), Ford expects a 2020 release whereas GM predicts two years as of September 8, 2016. With both enterprises pushing back the release of these technologies, Apple must decide how to progress (or not to progress) with Titan in response to the delay.

Some people believe the power of Apple is reason enough not to slow down their initiative. Self-proclaimed loyal Apple customer Patrick Bortel spoke about how he feels regarding the Titan production process after being posed the question of advancement with the initiative in the face of competitors.

Reasons given in the video for continuation of Titan production include technological prowess, continuous innovation, and customer loyalty unmatched by most major companies today.

Apple Manufacturing Makes Moves with Recent, Secretive Magna Partnership

As of September 15, contract car manufacturing giant Magna had twelve engineers working with Apple at their Sunnyvale, CA production location to reportedly develop a vehicle, according to Bloomberg Technology. The model behind Magna's assembly process mimics that of FoxConn Technology Group, a Taiwan-based company who builds a wide array of products including Amazon Kindles, iPhones, Dell computers, and Xbox consoles for Microsoft.

Aside from private meetings with Magna, what seems to be the likely course of action for Apple is an autonomous driving platform to be used as car software rather than creating an entire body and frame. The company's purchase of Didi Chuxing, a Chinese ride-hailing app, could point to using a driving platform for a self-driving taxi service as CEO Tim Cook cited buying the app for "a number of strategic reasons," according to the Guardian.

Additional information from the article referenced above points to the potential acquisition of McLaren Technology group; however, officials at McLaren deny this claim. Until further reports are released, the public is left to formulate its own opinions regarding the direction Titan will follow.

1 comment:

Neil Ramaswamy said...

Very interesting topic of choice. Headline is explanatory and concise; made me want to continue reading on. Good job on chunking information well. I like how you drew comparison to other car companies. Graphics were interesting, however, they could have been more explanatory, such as the first graphic being more about the technology and not just the "futuristic" car appearance.