- Apple is now building self-driving software, instead of a entire autonomous vehicle.
- But in the early days of the project, Apple employees including Jony Ive came up with concepts for the car of the future.
- They include augmented reality windshields, windows that tint themselves, and an interior where passengers could face each other.
Apple’s dream to build an electric car, called Project Titan, seems to be on the decline, according to a new report in The New York Times.
But one detail from the scoop reveals what got Apple fans so excited about the possibility of an Apple car when news of the project started to trickle out in 2014.
Apple had its design guru, Jony Ive, and his legendary industrial design team come up with various futuristic car concepts. What would a vehicle look like if it was designed by the same people behind the iPhone?
From the New York Times:
“Apple enlisted software programmers, automotive engineers, rocket scientists and the industrial-design team of Apple’s design chief, Jonathan Ive, to reimagine the car. They entertained a series of unconventional concepts, including augmented-reality or holographic displays embedded in windshields and windows, a sunroof made of a special polymer that reduces heat from the sun, and windows with adjustable tints – like those on Boeing’s new 787 Dreamliner jets.”
There was also a concept, according to the report, that was an SUV with interior seats facing each other.
Apple has since changed its plan. The car project is now focused on building self-driving software, instead of an Apple-designed vehicle. Apple now has 55 autonomous vehicles that are licensed to be tested on California streets.
But initially, at least, there was clearly a lot of excitement for what Apple could come up with. And the Times report underscores that Project Titan was thinking big for the best way to combine computers and cars.
The project has not gone well, though, and it’s much smaller than it was even a few years ago. Apple’s not planning to build a manufacturing facility, talks with contract car manufacturers have slowed down, and now Apple is working with Volkswagen to build an autonomous shuttle for employees.
Apple has a reputation for little design improvements that show thought and care. When you log into a Mac, and your password is incorrect, for example, it shakes its head at you. Or AirPods, the wireless earbuds Apple launched two years ago, can sense if they are in the case or in your ears, simplifying the Bluetooth pairing process.
How exciting could it be if Apple had taken that type of thinking to the automobile world?
But Apple’s self-driving software is ultimately less exciting than an actual “Apple Car.” It’s too bad, given Apple’s corporate emphasis on secrecy, that we’ll probably never see those concepts it came up with.
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