The cars of today (heading into the future) are vastly different from the humble autos of old. The car is not just another mechanical contraption that burns fossil fuel to take you from point A to point B. Cars are now becoming computers on wheels as technology firms create solutions to merger the hardware and software in cars.
Tesla, Google (Waymo), Faraday Future are some of the tech firms pushing the frontiers of the cars of the future. Traditional automakers such as GM, Ford, and Volkswagen AG are also investing heavily in cars that are more of computers than machines.
Interestingly, Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) is an expert in simplifying complex software for an intuitive user experience and the firm knows how to create compelling designs on the hardware part. Hence, it would be nice to see what the iPhone maker comes up with in terms of the iCar or the Apple car. Apple recently confirmed its interest to get into the self-driving car game and the iCar could be the next big thing from Apple after the original iPhone.
Here’s what we know about Apple’s car plans
In 2014, Apple began work on a super secretive project called “Project Titan” that had more than 1,000 employees building a self-driving EV in a secret location. Project Titan soon suffered some leadership problems, internal strife, and lack of clear-cut organizational objectives. Now, Apple has suspended Project Titan and it has suspended work on building physical car until sometime in the future.
In 2015, we heard about Apple’s efforts to find a testing facility for the Apple Car after the firm scouted a 2,100-acre former Naval base. In September 2015, we were treated to juicy information that Apple was in talks with California’s Department of Motor Vehicles to review autonomous driving regulations. In October, Tim Cook revealed that Apple is foreseeing massive in the auto industry. In his words, “It would seem like there will be massive change in that industry, massive change. You may not agree with that. That’s what I think.”
In January 2016, Apple reportedly bought three auto-related domains namely; apple.car, apple.cars, and apple.auto. In April 2016, we heard rumors that Apple was already working on developing its self-driving car in a “secret lab” in Germany. In June 2016, a Bloomberg report indicated that Apple might be working with a Canadian auto-parts manufacturer, Linamar Corp for the supply of auto parts.
In March 2017, news broke that at least 10 doctoral and postdoctoral students from EHT Zurich are now working at a local Apple lab in Switzerland. In April, a respected Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) analyst, Gene Munster revealed that Apple might want to build the software side of the Apple car to plug carOS into an existing product with another automaker.
In June 2017, Tim Cook officially revealed Apple’s plan for the auto industry even though Apple has a culture of keeping its plans secret. Tim Cook revealed that “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.”
Now, Bloomberg has published another report that Apple has leased a fleet of cars from Hertz –Hertz is the second largest vehicle rental agency in the U.S. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that Apple is probably renting these cars in order to test its autonomous driving algorithms in line with Munster’s revelation that Apple doesn’t want to build the hardware for cars.