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Apple reportedly working on self-driving employee shuttle for its campuses

24 August 2017

Apple is a relatively recent entrant to the field.

In mid-June, Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook, in an interview published by Bloomberg, confirmed that the tech company is working on the "autonomous systems" behind driverless cars. The in-house shuttle service is not yet operational, but is part of a plan that Apple intends to put in place. Apple CEO Tim Cook confirmed in June that Apple is developing autonomous-driving systems, but not an actual vehicle. They spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk publicly about Apple's plans.

Apple's ambitions for the "next big thing" to be the disruption of automobile industry have been scaled back dramatically. Another example is the Waymo which is a Google self-driving prototype.

While Apple continues to work on autonomous technology, it still has to keep an eye out for other competitors, like Google's Waymo unit, Uber and other Silicon Valley companies that are working on self-driving technology as well. It reportedly plans to test the tech by building a self-driving shuttle (called PAIL, for Palo Alto to Infinite Loop) that will take employees between its current campus and the new "Spaceship" HQ. A team within Project Titan investigated if spherical, globe-like wheels is viable so it could give the auto better lateral movement, according to the Times report. However, there are suggestions that this kind of a shuttle will become commercial in the coming years.

The NY Times report itself details the progression of Project Titan from the beginning. Apple is known for their complete control of every aspect the products they build. That included motorized doors that opened and closed silently.

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The team has worked on new ways of disguising the lidar systems that now sit like awkward vultures on top of driverless cars' roofs, looking gawky and out of place.

The switch in focus marks the end of years of research inside Apple. According to the report, "Apple even looked into reinventing the wheel". Executive Steve Zadesky, originally in charge of Titan, preferred to build a semi-autonomous vehicle, much as Tesla has now.

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Even though had not ironed out numerous basics, like how the autonomous systems would work, a team had already started working on an operating system software called CarOS. However, there were disagreements on whether CarOS should be programmed using Apple's programming language Swift or with C++.

Apple reportedly working on self-driving employee shuttle for its campuses