Apple Inc. has scaled back ambitious self-driving plans for its future electric vehicle and postponed the car’s target launch date by about a year to 2026, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

The car project, dubbed Titan inside the company, has been in limbo for the past several months as Apple executives grappled with the reality that its vision for a fully autonomous vehicle — without a steering wheel or pedals — isn’t feasible with current technology.

In a significant shift for the project, the company is now planning a less-ambitious design that will include a steering wheel and pedals and only support full autonomous capabilities on highways, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the information is private.

The latest changes underscore the challenge Apple faces in pushing into an entirely new product category and taking on technological obstacles that have bedeviled some of the world’s biggest companies. The secretive project, underway for years, is meant to provide Apple with another major moneymaker, but it also could test the limits of the iPhone maker’s capabilities.

Apple currently plans to develop a vehicle that lets drivers conduct other tasks — say, watch a movie or play a game — on a freeway and be alerted with ample time to switch over to manual control if they reach city streets or encounter inclement weather. The company has discussed launching the feature in North America initially and then improving and expanding it over time.

A spokeswoman for Cupertino, California-based Apple declined to comment.

Apple shares, already down about 2 per cent on Tuesday, dipped to a session low after Bloomberg News reported on the changes. They’ve declined 19 per cent this year, though that’s a better performance than most stocks in the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite Index.

Apple’s previous vision for the car was to offer “Level 5” autonomy — the pinnacle of self-driving technology, which no automaker has attained. The current plan is considered below that because of its more limited scope.

The heart of Apple’s technology is a powerful onboard computer system — codenamed Denali after the tallest mountain peak in North America — and a custom array of sensors. The processor’s performance is equal to about four of Apple’s highest-end Mac chips combined and is being developed by the company’s silicon engineering group. The chip has reached an advanced state and is considered nearly production-ready, though Apple may scale it down before the car’s launch to lower costs.

Having an onboard computer to handle automated tasks is similar to an approach used by other carmakers, including Tesla Inc. Apple, however, plans to differ from Tesla by using a combination of lidar and radar sensors, along with cameras. The setup helps the car determine its location, see driving lanes, and assess how far it is from other objects and people. Tesla relies on cameras, while Alphabet Inc.’s Waymo and others use a combination.

amazon

Apple CEO Tim Cook is displayed on a screen while speaking during Apple’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference in San Jose, California, U.S. June 6, 2022. Photo by Peter DaSilva /Reuters

In addition to the onboard hardware, the system has a cloud-based component for some artificial-intelligence processing. Apple is relying on Amazon Web Services for hosting, costing the iPhone maker about $125 million per year. But that’s just a sliver of the roughly $1 billion the company is spending on the car project annually.

Apple is exploring the idea of a remote command center to assist drivers and control cars from afar during emergencies. The company is also discussing offering its own insurance program to customers.

Apple had expected each car to sell for more than $120,000, but the company is now aiming to offer the vehicle to consumers for less than $100,000, according to the people. That would put it in roughly the same price range as the entry-level version of the Model S from Tesla and the EQS from Mercedes-Benz.

The design of the car is being led by Ulrich Kranz, the ex-chief executive officer of Canoo, as well as former managers from Tesla, Lamborghini and Porsche. The software side of the system is led by former Tesla manager Stuart Bowers, while safety engineering, testing and regulatory matters are handled by ex-Ford Motor Co. executive Desi Ujkashevic.

The company’s team in Zurich is developing a tool known as “Rocket Score” that grades the vehicle’s autonomous system. That core team faced a setback earlier this year when Ian Goodfellow, a prominent developer of AI technology who helped lead the group, left Apple after complaining about its work-from-home policies.

Bloomberg

See More Articles From This Author

TECH NEWS RELATED

Today in Apple history: Sequel to ‘1984’ Mac ad bombs hard

The “Lemmings” ad became a massive disaster for Apple. Photo illustration: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac January 20, 1985: Apple attempts to build on the triumph of the previous year’s “1984” Macintosh commercial with another Super Bowl ad. Called “Lemmings,” the ad for a new business platform called Macintosh Office ...

View more: Today in Apple history: Sequel to ‘1984’ Mac ad bombs hard

Apple Just Released Code for Its 40-Year-Old “Lisa” Computer

John Couch / Computer History Museum The Lisa was Apple’s first computer with a graphical desktop interface, predating the Macintosh by a year. Now, 40 years later, you can see exactly how the computer worked. Apple released the Lisa computer on January 19, 1983, as a high-end workstation computer ...

View more: Apple Just Released Code for Its 40-Year-Old “Lisa” Computer

Saddle up for some solitaire with Pocket Card Jockey: Ride On!

Play Solitatire to win horse races in an interesting mashup game that debuted in Apple Arcade on Friday. Screenshot: Game Freak A classic Nintendo 3DS game trotted over to Apple Arcade. Pocket Card Jockey: Ride On! merges Solitaire and horse racing into a unique combination. It launched January 20 ...

View more: Saddle up for some solitaire with Pocket Card Jockey: Ride On!

Apple appeals to UK competition watchdog investigation about mobile browser dominance

Apple has filed an appeal against the UK’s competition watchdog regarding its dominance of mobile browsers in the cloud gaming market, reports Reuters. The Competition and Markets Authority started investigating this dominance by the Cupertino firm and Google. Lawyers representing Apple believe the investigation should be reviewed as CMA ...

View more: Apple appeals to UK competition watchdog investigation about mobile browser dominance

Amazon Prime Music Unlimited changes streaming prices, now matches Apple Music

Prices for subscription services have been going up in the past few months, and Amazon Music Unlimited is the latest service to see a hike. Amazon increased the costs for its Music Unlimited tiers in the US and UK, matching Apple’s similar price hike for Apple Music from a ...

View more: Amazon Prime Music Unlimited changes streaming prices, now matches Apple Music

Shape Island squares the circle: It’s stop-motion perfection for kids and parents [Apple TV+ review]

★★★★★ Minor problems deliver major entertainment in excellent new stop-motion animation series Shape Island. on Apple TV+. Image: Apple TV+ Shape Island arrives on Apple TV+ today to teach kids about social interactions and to help them ward off the anxiety inherent in such things. Based on the critically acclaimed ...

View more: Shape Island squares the circle: It’s stop-motion perfection for kids and parents [Apple TV+ review]

HomePod 2 praised in exclusive hands-on before launch

This week, Apple announced HomePod 2. After discontinuing the original version in 2021 due to poor sales, the company bet on its mini model to lure new customers. Although the smaller version of the company’s smart speakers does have a “surprising sound” for its size, it’s not quite as ...

View more: HomePod 2 praised in exclusive hands-on before launch

M2 Pro MacBook Pro Amazon preorder deal gives you $50 off

Apple unveiled the 2023 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro models earlier this week. The laptops feature the expected M2 Pro and M2 Max chip upgrades. The notebooks are available for preorder from Apple and other retailers before their January 24th release date. But there’s already a great preorder deal for ...

View more: M2 Pro MacBook Pro Amazon preorder deal gives you $50 off

Apple offers discounts on iPhone 14 Series, MacBooks, Watch Ultra & more via its official website in India

Samsung is reportedly making OLED displays for iPad Pro, MacBook Pro

Apple needs to fold the iPhone and forget about Glasses

Apple TV outage means no stream for you!

Newest Android version installed on a mere 5% of devices

Apple's Black History Month plans may tip an earlier than expected iOS 16.3 launch

Why Apple’s 14-inch M2 Pro MacBook Pro is worth the upgrade

Dump your bulky wallet for this slim MagSafe alternative [Review]

Apple’s Next iPad Could Double as a Smart Display

HomePod head-to-head: How Apple’s new smart speaker compares to original

Rumor says another Apple TV 4K upgrade is coming; we say 'why?'

Apple’s Biggest Computer Failure Turns 40 Years Old Today

OTHER TECH NEWS

Top Car News Car News