Apple’s self-driving car project seems to have hit the next stage now that it has a working partnership going with Volkswagen for the supply of an actual car to test its autonomous driving technologies.
The Cupertino company though has modest targets to start out with, which includes using the car maker’s all-electric T6 Transporter vans for ferrying employees between Palo Alto and Infinite Loop. Interestingly, the shuttle service is being internally referred to as PAIL using the initials of the destinations covered.
For Apple, the above arrangement can, however, be considered to be a compromise of sorts given that its initial plans to team up with top tier companies met with naught. That includes the likes of BMW or Mercedes as both companies refused to comply with Apple’s demand for handing over the design of the car to the iPhone maker. The other Apple demand of keeping to itself the data generated during the testing phase is another reason the company failed to forge deals with either BMW or Mercedes.
However, Apple’s move to launch a shuttle service can be seen as a progression of all the research it has been pursuing in the field so far. Its once heavily guarded Project Titan has already seen a considerable downgrade after it envisaged the development of only the self-driving technology instead of developing an entire futuristic car from scratch.
Apple has also seen its fleet of self-driving cars reach an all-time high of 55 vehicles after getting a few more registered with the California Department of Motor Vehicles. That again is second only to General Motors that has a fleet of 104 autonomous cars. Waymo with 51 cars comes in at third while Tesla too has 39 vehicles earmarked for autonomous driving testing purposes.
All of it makes Apple quite a significant player in the field of self-driving car technologies, and it remains to be seen if it can convert all the hype surrounding Project Titan into real road worthy vehicles truly capable of driving on their own.