Apple scaled back its ambitions to launch self-driving cars to a future date of 2026. The changes come after reports of being in talks with automakers and other manufacturers for over a year. Post the announcement, the iPhone maker’s shares fell by 2.4%.
The company’s self-driving unit is known as “Project Titan”. They have proceeded unevenly since 2014 when it started to design from scratch. However, there has been a pause and delay due to various reasons. Apple is now planning a less-ambitious design that will include a steering wheel and pedals and only support full autonomous capabilities on highways, the people told Bloomberg. The report added that the company plans to develop a vehicle that lets drivers conduct other tasks on a freeway and be alerted with ample time to switch over to manual control.
According to Bloomberg’s last year report, Apple was pushing to launch its electric car as early as 2025 and refocusing the project around full self-driving capabilities. Apple’s ideal car would have no steering wheel and pedals, with interiors designed around hands-off driving, the report then said.
Project Titan design
Apple also changed its prices for self-driving cars. According to anonymous sources, Apple plans to sell the vehicle to consumers for less than $100,000. The initial price was over $120,000. So far, Apple doesn’t have a design for its car and considers it to be in the pre-prototype stage. It plans to have the design ready by next year and features set by 2024. Following that, Apple plans to extensively test the car in 2025.
Apple’s onboard computer system, named Denali, is being developed by its silicon engineering group and has reached an advanced state. Bloomberg noted that it’s almost production-ready, but Apple might scale it down before launching the car in order to lower costs. Apple’s vice president of technology, Kevin Lynch, is leading Project Titan and initially instructed the team to engineer and design a fully autonomous vehicle to be debuted by 2025. This isn’t the first time Apple had to change its plans for an autonomous vehicle. When Apple’s former head of Project Titan, Steven Zadesky, left the company, Bob Mansfield came out of semi-retirement to take his place. After around a month, reports circulated that Apple laid off dozens of senior members from its team with plans to reboot the program. It was until a year later that CEO Tim Cook told Bloomberg that Apple was interested in developing self-driving cars. Now, the project is delayed and more details are expected about the automakers plans to be revealed.