Autocar imagined the Apple iCar last year
Apple CEO Tim Cook confirmed that the brand had ditched its plan to build an autonomous car in June, but now employees have revealed why the project was derailed.
Following Cook's comments that the brand would continue developing autonomous car technology but has halted development of its own car, five anonymous sources have told The New York Times that issues arose from a lack of direction in the project.
Some leading employees wanted to develop a fully autonomous car, while others were convinced that a semi-autonomous vehicle was more appropriate. The delays these discussions caused put Apple behind its main rivals, leading to the shelving of the original project.
Speaking to Bloomberg Television at the start of summer, Cook explained that the technology giant was now completely focused on developing an autonomous system - something he said was "a core technology that we view as very important". He said the work was “probably one of the most difficult [artificial intellengence] projects to work on".
Apple, which had reportedly been working on its so-called iCar project, codenamed Project Titan, late into 2016, has more recently failed to close a supply deal with BMW and Daimler for its systems. ABI Research senior analyst James Hodgson believes this, and its project shift, could have cost Apple in the race to help produce a fully driverless car. “[Apple was] slow to begin testing autonomous systems and now it has a considerable innovation gap to close,” he said.
Apple and McLaren were also reported to be in talks last year when the tech giant was said to be looking into a takeover bid of the British supercar maker. The talks have since closed and both parties declined to comment on the matter.
Apple's changing driverless project is said to have seen the resignation, dismissal or reassignment of 1000 employees.