Apple Signs Deal With Volkswagen To Build Self-Driving Vans

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Tech giant turns to VW after talks stall with BMW/Mercedes.

Apple was once planning to disrupt the auto industry with its own self-driving car, dubbed project Titan. The reality of such a massive undertaking eventually persuaded them to scale its ambitions down to focusing on developing the underlying vehicle autonomy technology instead. Apple decided that established motor manufacturers were better placed to build the actual cars. This more measured approach lead to negotiations with luxury automakers Mercedes-Benz and BMW. But talks have since stalled over data and design control issues.

According to the New York Times, this stalemate has meant that Apple has now signed a deal with Volkswagen instead. In an interview by the NY Times with three people from within Apple who are familiar with the project, it was revealed that the new T6 Transporter (redesigned by Italdesign) will be used as a platform for the company's on-campus all-electric self-driving shuttles. The Apple car program has suffered a number of issues since it was created four-years ago. Many employees that were originally part of the project moved on to other pursuits as a lack of clear goals and drastic direction changes left them unsure of where things were heading.

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While the Volkswagen deal is a step in the right direction, rival companies like Waymo are now much further down the track. Even traditional carmakers have been testing self-driving vehicles with in-house technology solutions, so Apple will need to really up its game in the coming months to make up for lost time. Let's hope tit has another iPod-style magic trick left in its bag that helps it transform the Transporter into a viable self-driving vehicle.


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