The Cupertino company reportedly laid off dozens of employees working on its autonomous vehicle project
Apple may be rethinking its driverless car plans as other companies accelerate ahead in bringing autonomous vehicles to the road.
According The New York Times, sources from Apple have said the company has laid off dozens of employees who were working of Apple’s attempts to get into driverless car technology.
The Cupertino company’s autonomous vehicle plans and ambitions have expectedly not been made public, given Apple’s reputations for secrecy, but its driverless car development to date has reportedly been operating under the codename Titan for the past two yeas.
However, it would appear that Apple has not made much progress over that period and could be reworking the focus of Titan from creating an autonomous car to developing underlying technology for driverless car systems, as the workers let go were informed it is part of an effort to “reboot” the project.
Driverless car development
Apple’s potential pivot makes sense given the number of companies working on driverless car technology, from high-profile tech companies like Google and Uber, to the major car makers and startups.
Google and the likes of Ford and Volvo are already testing their driverless cars and systems on public roads, reporting successful, mainly incident-free tests drives. In contrast, Apple’s driverless car testing seems to have been kept firmly behind doors on private tracks, if indeed it has any technology to test.
The mission to make drivers passengers in their own cars is a major undertaking, requiring techniques such as sensor fusion and the use of deep learning neural networks, so for a gadget maker to make a foray into the arena could be seen as a lofty ambition.
Furthermore, Apple has a habit of not leaping into a technology area until is is fairly mature and the company has the opportunity to release a refined and immaculately designed take on it; given it’s early days for driverless cars, it may come as no surprise that Apple is reworking its autonomous vehicle strategy.
While Apple applies the brakes on its driverless car development, other companies have hit the throttle in order to speed up their autonomous technology development.
Volvo has entered into a joint agreement with automotive safety group Autoliv to form a new company with the mission to develop autonomous driving software and advanced driver assistance systems.
“By combining our know how and resources we will create a world leader in AD (autonomous drive) software development. This means we can introduce this exciting technology to our customers faster,” said Håkan Samuelsson, president and chief executive of Volvo Cars.
While the new company has yet to be given a name, it is an indication of how some firms in the automotive and technology industry are keenly focused on making driverless cars a major part of the roads of tomorrow.
Head over to London’s Greenwich and you may be able to catch a glimpse of driverless pods being put to the test as part of the area’s GATEway project.
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