If you want to talk about rumors that refuse to die but won’t become reality, you can’t not mention the Apple car. The company has made many great products but it simply can’t crack the Apple car. The latest rumors say the project is still facing roadblocks, meaning anybody wishing for a half-eaten apple logo on their car may have to wait for long.
It would seem a car is a slam dunk for Apple with all the engineering talent and the nearly unlimited resources at its disposal as the largest publicly-traded company globally. However, the Apple car project, codenamed Project Titan, has failed to materialize into a real product.
Project Titan has been bedeviled by crises including unstable leadership, high employee turnover rate, changing product goals from the top brass, etc.
The Information has been able to get its hands on the timeline of Project Titan, including the few highs and abundant lows. Apple’s software chief Craig Federighi was reportedly skeptical of Project Titan from the start. In fact, the team and the project are often objects of mockery within Apple as a company.
However, the development team has struggled with the performance of the car itself. For example, test vehicles have worked well in pre-determined routes but failed when introduced to unknown environments. The car is self-driving, but often hands control to the human driver during test drives on unknown roads.
One incident that stands out involved a jogger who was crossing the street. The prototype car was supposed to stop at the sight of the jogger but decided to slightly adjust its path, which was not enough to avoid the jogger. The backup driver had to step in to halt the car to prevent hitting the pedestrian. Apple realized that the car would have injured the jogger had the driver not intervened.
To be fair, Apple is not the only company pursuing self-driving having problems. A self-driving car is hard to develop because of the many factors involved, as Waymo and Tesla would tell you. However, the incessant loss of staff is unusual for Apple and the industry. It even lost a key employee to its return-to-office policy. Apple has had to reshuffle to find a head for Project Titan, which is now being led by Kevin Lynch, who led the watchOS project.
Apple is reportedly highly ambitious with Project Titian, which is not surprising by any means. Cupertino hopes to create a car without a steering wheel or brake pedal with the blessing of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. That is a lofty goal that even traditional car makers like Ford, GM, and Tesla have not been able to reach.
Meanwhile, legendary former Apple design chief Jony Ive, who still collaborates with the company, has advised the design team to abandon trying to hide the sensors in a sleek design that may not be optimum but let the vehicle’s features lead them.
According to The Information, the latest design has four seats that face one another to enable passengers to interact face-to-face. It also has a curved roof reminiscent of the Volkswagen Beetle. However, the design team has considered outlandish ideas like huge displays that can be hidden away behind the seats when not used.
There are rumors that Apple plans to release the car in 2025 and is working on how to disguise the prototype for road testing starting next year.