Is Apple giving up on its self-driving car
Is Apple giving up on its self-driving car. Image credit: Auto Evolution.

U.S. San Francisco, Calif. – Rumor is that Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) is rethinking its self-driving car plans. And rethinking possibly means ditching “Project Titan” altogether, just when all the big tech companies are jumping on the driverless wagon.

The New York Times reported Apple had shut down parts of its self-driving vehicle project and laid off dozens of employees. The diary spoke to three Apple employees who didn’t have the permission to talk about the matter publicly.

The effort appears to be stumbling blocks. Earlier this year, the project’s director, Steve Zadesky, left the company for personal reasons. Bob Mansfield, a veteran Apple executive with zero automotive experience, took over the “Apple Car” in July.

Google is making progress on its self-driving car

The company has added resources to Project Titan in recent years but have seen little progress, whereas its primary rival, Google Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOGL), has already tested its driverless vehicle over 1.5 million miles free of accidents.

Google is, however, an extremely different company than Apple. Alphabet’s son tends to keep their projects public and even share many of their technological advances with the general public and developers.

Apple, on the other side, keeps a very tight and exclusive research environment and, likely, the code-named Project Titan is very secretive.

Apple has tried to lure other companies employees to work in Project Titan

Rumors about an Apple self-driving car first appeared in 2015. Media has claimed to receive information from inside sources and said Apple-branded electric vehicle would look like a mini-van.

The stronger hint of the existence of the Apple Car is that this year the company made a $1 billion investment to buy shares in Didi Chuxing, a Chinese-based company similar to Uber. CEO Tim Cook explained the move would give some strategic insight about the car transportation service.

And battery maker A123 Systems LLC sued Apple around the same time alleging it was luring high-level battery engineers and chemists to join the Apple Car’s battery department in violation of the agreement that prohibits working with the competition.

Apple and A123 settled the case under terms that did not go public.

Elon Musk has also complained about Apple’s unethical practices 

Uber is already testing self-driving taxis with passengers in Pittsburgh. Recently they acquired the start-up Otto for about $700 million, a purchase that added to the company’s team some of the top minds in robotics and autonomous technology.

And Tesla Motors Inc. (NASDAQ: TSLA) is already out on the streets with a feature called “Autopilot,” a step towards driverless cars.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk complained to Bloomberg in January 2015 that Apple was trying to hire his automotive employees.

Source: NY Times