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Tech Giant Apple accelerates plans to build team for its electric car project




Apple is reportedly planning to form a new Apple Car Project team before the end of this year.

According to reports, tech giant Apple is planning to build a new team for its electric car project- Project Titan- before the end of the year. Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo took to Twitter on Wednesday to write, “Apple is building a new team to accelerate the project that was laying dormant during the Covid pandemic.”

Apple went through many stages of its rumored car project, never actually confirming nor denying the existence of it, reports ArenaEV. The report said that industry analysts have been predicting an Apple Car for years now, it began as a simple city car and now it is looking more to be a fully-autonomous vehicle that will not require any input from the driver.

Project Titan began its life in 2014 when Apple formed a so-called shell company — SixtyEight Research — to work on the car project. However. The project faced several setbacks such as teams walking away, the direction of the project changing completely, and sudden management changes. With all the restrictions and wider industry aftershocks slowly subsiding, it looks like Apple wants to get back on track with the Titan Project, the report said. Two years were lost and it will take more time to catch up with the lost work, it added.

Sometimes known as Project Titan, the term has been used to refer to a car designed by Apple and a self-driving vehicle system. Multiple cycles of rumours throughout the years have converged lately on a fully autonomous vehicle requiring little human intervention while driving. Rumors go back to 2014 when the first leak described Project Titan focused on vehicles. Apple formed a shell company called Sixty Eight Research and began working in a California facility known as SG5.

Apple is now rumoured to be working on an autonomous self-driving vehicle that will not require user intervention to drive, going further than any other car manufacturer to date. It’s a highly ambitious project, and rumours indicate that Apple wants to design a car with no steering wheel and no pedals. Apple’s AI and machine learning chief John Giannandreais heading up the Apple Car project, and Kevin Lynch, known for his work on the Apple Watch, has also joined the team that is working on the car and is said to be largely responsible for Apple’s push toward a self-driving car.

There is a high-powered Apple-designed chip in the Apple Car, and it is the most advanced component that Apple has developed to date. It’s made from neural processors that can handle the incredible AI load needed for autonomous vehicles. TSMC is expected to manufacture the chip, and that’s the same company that makes chips for the iPhone, iPad, and Mac.

Because Apple has no experience with car manufacturing, it will need partners to produce the vehicle, and Apple is said to be working on securing partnerships in the automobile industry. It is not yet known whom Apple will work with, but it has held discussions with Hyundai and other companies.

In June 2017, Apple CEO Tim Cook spoke publicly about Apple’s work on autonomous driving software, confirming the company’s work in a rare candid moment. Apple doesn’t often share details on what it’s working on, but when it comes to the car software, it’s harder to keep quiet because of regulations. 

“We’re focusing on autonomous systems. It’s a core technology that we view as very important. We sort of see it as the mother of all AI projects. It’s probably one of the most difficult AI projects actually to work on.” — Apple CEO Tim Cook on Apple’s plans in the car space.

The Project Titan team has seen numerous changes. Bob Mansfield took over as project lead in 2016, and the suggestion at the time was that Apple wouldn’t directly compete with Tesla. Much has transpired since then, and the COVID pandemic is said to be a factor in Apple’s back-burning project. The rumor mill was mostly quiet about the project, before Kuo’s Tweet on Wednesday. In his tweet, he said that a vehicle launch from Apple is unlikely to happen before the year 2025. In late 2018, he said the launch date could be as early as 2023. Previous dates included 2020 and 2021, with delays linked to the departures of team leaders. Currently, Kuo’s TF Securities expects a launch between 2025 and 2027. Apple could work with Kia to manufacture the vehicle, and the company has approached other manufacturers such as Nissan and Hyundai. Kuo is one of the most reliable Apple analysts, and most of his scoops, especially the ones related to the development of the iPhone, proved to be accurate

Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman has reported Apple is shooting for a fully autonomous electric car and aims to have one ready around 2025. Many companies working on self-driving technology have been unable to deploy robotaxis on the timelines they targeted, and only a handful are offering ride services in select cities.

In a survey conducted by Strategic Vision which reached approximately 200,000 vehicle owners, the results revealed that 26 percent said they would “definitely consider” buying a set of wheels from the iPhone maker, behind only Toyota and Honda. And 24 percent ticked the top box (“I love it”) when asked their impression of the brand’s quality, beating all others by a wide margin.

Most recently there were reports that Apple was in talks with carmakers about a partnership that would see them build a vehicle, although likely with Apple’s logo sitting atop its hood. Companies including Kia and Hyundai were thought to be involved at various points. What this latest revamp of the Apple Car team means is anyone’s guess at this point, but it isn’t clear whether it means there’s a change in focus or if this is just another example of the talent churn that the project has become known for over the last few years.