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Businesses Transportation Apple

Apple Puts Brakes on Self-driving Car Project, Report Says (theguardian.com) 78

Apple is following the road taken by Waymo, the autonomous vehicle subsidiary of Google-parent Alphabet, and downshifting on its still-unannounced self-driving car project, according to a report in the New York Times. From a report: The company has been working on its automotive technology under the internal code name "Project Titan" since at least 2014, and once intended to build its own vehicle from start to finish, creating a true "Apple Car." Now it's put the car-building side of the project on hold, perhaps indefinitely, as it instead focuses on creating and perfecting the software and hardware necessary to get a self-driving car on the streets. Apple is now planning on working with other car-makers to get its self-driving tech into the garages and driveways of customers, according to the paper. One upcoming example of that collaboration: an autonomous shuttle service that will ferry employees back and forth between the company's Silicon Valley offices in Palo Alto and Cupertino. That project, which will use conventional cars with self-driving kit bolted on, is known as "Pail", standing for Palo Alto to Infinite Loop, the street address of the company's main campus. The name highlights the delays in the project, since Apple's main campus is already in the process of being moved to Apple Park, an enormous ring-shaped office down the road.
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Apple Puts Brakes on Self-driving Car Project, Report Says

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  • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Wednesday August 23, 2017 @11:16AM (#55070203)

    That's what you get when you remove and remove features, at one point you might remove one that is crucial.

    In the name of pedestrians everywhere, thanks for putting the brakes back onto your damn cars!

    • by Anonymous Coward

      It took a lot of courage to be driven around in a car without brakes. Too much for even Apple!

    • Ha, you all are barking up the wrong tree. The REAL reason that Apple is dropping the self driving car concept is because they've jumped completely over the box-on-wheels concept and are working on ...

      A teleporter.

      Let Google suck on that one for a while.

      You heard it hear first.

    • At least they still advocate downshifting . Slow stop is better than none I suppose.
    • a car with lights that cost $30 each dealer only service failed in the test marketing group.

      • by slew ( 2918 )

        a car with lights that cost $30 each dealer only service failed in the test marketing group.

        Maybe they realized the problem with the upgrade to a new model every 2 years and discard/hand-down hardware demand model...
        You can't hand down a car to anyone less than 16yo, and anyone above that age wants the new model not the old one....

        Now on to business Plan B.

    • In the name of pedestrians everywhere, thanks for putting the brakes back onto your damn cars!

      Weren't they basically required to keep that stuff if they wanted to get permission to operate on public roads in more than a couple of states? Anyway, Apple can burn money from now until forever and still have more of it than they need. No one in the industry really took the idea that Apple would build their own cars seriously — everyone assumed that if they "built" Apple-logo'd cars any time soon, they'd be built by a contract manufacturer.

    • the apple only changing cables with an $200+ 120V outlet cable was to far and in the past when alienware tried an $50 add on for an better desktop power cable

  • Next Apple project - flailing around and reheating Job's leftover ideas. They need someone with vision or accept that they are a commodity supplier.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    there are about 10 companies ahead of them in the race. They got put back in their box.

    • by mjwx ( 966435 )

      there are about 10 companies ahead of them in the race. They got put back in their box.

      More like they realised just how much technology they'd need to pay for to make a car AND how much technology they'd need to share.

      There are a lot of patents and technology sharing agreements in the auto industry. Apple are well known for not paying license fees and not sharing their toys.

  • The only Apple location that I know about in Palo Alto is the Apple Store. Although the Palo Alto Apple Store is the flagship store, I find it confusing as to why Apple needs a self-driving shuttle to take employees from the Cupertino campuses to Palo Alto. Between the Infinite Loop and the Mothership campuses in Cupertino, sure. But not Palo Alto.
  • And here I thought self-driving cars braked themselves.

  • Unbelievable how they don't get that the vertical integration of the iOS architecture (hardware + software + services) is what makes them stand out with the grand majority of users (not talking about technologists and hobbyists, but mom, pops and most users)

    Windows will never have that while catering to multiple hardware vendors
    Android will never have that while catering to multiple hardware vendors

    As far as I can tell Tesla is the only one doing the all-around solution approach, while others are going with

    • Apple realized they're a tech company, not a car company. Vertical integration in your own field works great, in someone else's field where you don't know much it's putting the cart before the horse.

  • More and more people are coming to the conclusion that the "self driving" or autonomous car is still many years in the future. It's like the flying car. What if something goes wrong? You're f#@ked.
    • People seem to think autonomous vehicles need to have a near-zero accident rate before they're an acceptable alternative to human-driven cars - which really doesn't make much sense.

      Something already "goes wrong" - very wrong - with human-driven cars at the rate of greater than 30,000 times a year [wikipedia.org], just in the United States.

      It seems likely that autonomous cars could lower that number significantly.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        I think it's in the middle. They need to be A LOT better than they are now if it's going to be where you don't need a license to operate one. Just hop in and sleep or jack-off for for your 30 min trip.

        The biggest problem that I see if getting someone's attention when the driver needs to take over. That and weather. I live on an unpaved road in the northern Michigan. Six months of the year is avoiding potholes. The other six months I can't see the road.

        • by jbengt ( 874751 )

          I live on an unpaved road in the northern Michigan. Six months of the year is avoiding potholes. The other six months I can't see the road.

          I know the feeling. I live on a (barely) paved road in northern Illinois. And there have been times when I've welcomed the winter snow because it filled the potholes.

      • by phantomfive ( 622387 ) on Wednesday August 23, 2017 @01:14PM (#55070979) Journal
        Autonomous cars need to be at SAE level 4 [machinedesign.com] (otherwise they are not autonomous). Currently self-driving technology is at SAE level 3, which means a human has to be constantly ready to take over. It looks like we're going to need actual algorithmic advances before a car can reach SAE level 4.

        It seems likely that autonomous cars could lower that number significantly.

        This is definitely true, but getting to SAE level 4 is required. At SAE level 3, the driver needs to sit there babysitting the vehicle, which is a worse user experience than actually driving yourself.

        • Cruise control is better than maintaining a set speed yourself. It's a bore to act as a feedback device for a couple of hours looking at the speedo a couple of times a minute and adjusting your foot pressure to adapt.

          Adaptive cruise control is better than being in heavy traffic and cycling through speeding up, slowing down and stopping ensuring that you don't run into the car in front, and yet not leaving such a big gap that people keep cutting in front of you.

          Why wouldn't having the car do the steering too

          • by bws111 ( 1216812 )

            Cruise control relieves you of one task. You are still driving the car. Having the car do everything is much worse, I think, because now you have nothing to do but sit there and watch. You can't perform any other tasks like you could if you were a passenger, and you aren't occupying yourself doing anything except sitting their waiting for the computer to screw up.

          • It's too hard to focus on driving when you don't have to drive.
          • Are there any statistics that demonstrate that cruise control, of any sort, improves safety? Or is it just a convenience?
        • Correction: We need SAE level 4 AND a guarantee from the car company that they will take full responsibility for any and all damages made by the car.
      • by bws111 ( 1216812 )

        The problem with that thinking is that while there are statistics on how many times a human driver 'got it wrong', there are NO statistics on how many times a human driver encountered a situation and got it RIGHT. How many times have you been instructed to drive on the 'wrong' side of the road by a construction worker, emergency personel, etc? Did you know what to do? Did you know what to do even if he did not have some special equipment? How many times has bad weather caused you to do something unusua

      • Time will tell who is right and who is wrong. In perhaps 5 or 10 or 20 years. There is an autonomous motorcycle built by Yamaha on youtube that's very impressive. It's a very complex problem. And I for one don't wish to be a guinea pig or "take my chances" with one. Good luck with yours if you get one.
      • The problem with that is that people don't think anything is ever going to go wrong when they get into a manually driven car, but automation in reality will have to be much safer than a human driver for people to adopt them. I recently got a vehicle with an adaptive cruise control, and I have had many comments that I am crazy to put my trust in even that.
        • The initial adoption is going to be by commercial operations - specifically trucking and other delivery services. They are only motivated by the bottom line and legal restrictions.

          And the adoption by trucking companies has already started. Automated long distance trucking (with remote drone driving to take over on surface streets at the beginning and end) is already hitting the roads.

          The cost advantages of automated trucking is staggering. Not only is the cost of the driver eliminated, but the truck can be

      • by mjwx ( 966435 )

        People seem to think autonomous vehicles need to have a near-zero accident rate before they're an acceptable alternative to human-driven cars - which really doesn't make much sense.

        Something already "goes wrong" - very wrong - with human-driven cars at the rate of greater than 30,000 times a year [wikipedia.org], just in the United States.

        It seems likely that autonomous cars could lower that number significantly.

        Using the US is a terrible example, you have approximately 12 deaths per 100,000 pop. Humans are much better than this, the UK has around 3 deaths per 100,000 pop. So autonomous cars will need to be better than that.

        The problem you have is that no autonomous car has been demonstrated to be better than a human. They've all be tested with humans at the wheel. In fact, Google's autonomus car caused an accident when both the car and human made a mistake (which was pretty fecking obvious to someone who drives

    • I don't think it's a bad idea on it's own but the car market is very low profit/commodity driven. Nobody gives a shit who wrote the software as long as it works.
  • by bfwebster ( 90513 ) on Wednesday August 23, 2017 @12:23PM (#55070683) Homepage

    Remember that for quite some time, the rumor was that Apple was going to release its own line of TV sets. Many people (including myself) thought that was a stupid idea, since it would put Apple into the TV manufacturing business, which is pretty cutthroat.

    I think the same problems occur with the concept of Apple building its own self-driving car, except that car manufacturing is far more complex, capital-intensive, and labor-intensive than building TV sets, while still being just as cutthroat (note that US car mfgrs are dealing with slowing sales and mounting inventory [foxbusiness.com]). So, Apple's move is, generally speaking, a sane one.

    On the other hand, Apple has largely blown its approach to the actual Apple TV to date (I own two and am a fan, but I love my Echo and Dot more), so who knows what it will achieve on the automotive front.

    • by Kjella ( 173770 )

      I think the same problems occur with the concept of Apple building its own self-driving car, except that car manufacturing is far more complex, capital-intensive, and labor-intensive than building TV sets, while still being just as cutthroat (note that US car mfgrs are dealing with slowing sales and mounting inventory). So, Apple's move is, generally speaking, a sane one.

      So? Self-driving cars would be a totally disruptive shift in what people care about in a car. Kinda like the iPhone made people care about entirely other things than what they wanted from a phone before. You're not driving. You're don't care about any of the performance or functionality or experience related to driving, even though those in the passenger seat and back seat got heard I'd say the vast majority of purchases are currently decided by the person in the driver's seat. If Apple could give you a car

      • Why would Apple have any sort of advantage at all over engineers working on the same problem in the industry?
    • by mjwx ( 966435 )

      Remember that for quite some time, the rumor was that Apple was going to release its own line of TV sets. Many people (including myself) thought that was a stupid idea, since it would put Apple into the TV manufacturing business, which is pretty cutthroat.

      I think the same problems occur with the concept of Apple building its own self-driving car, except that car manufacturing is far more complex, capital-intensive, and labor-intensive than building TV sets, while still being just as cutthroat (note that US car mfgrs are dealing with slowing sales and mounting inventory [foxbusiness.com]). So, Apple's move is, generally speaking, a sane one.

      #

      This is more like Apple realising that they know nothing about building cars. I can imagine the Apple car to be crappier than a Nissan leaf but costing more than a top of the range C-Class.

      On the other hand, Apple has largely blown its approach to the actual Apple TV to date (I own two and am a fan, but I love my Echo and Dot more), so who knows what it will achieve on the automotive front.

      Not much really. The Apple TV really did nothing for the entertainment industry. The same with their car audio products, floundering on a competitive market.

      I recently bought a new 240i, In order to get Apple CarPlay that gives me the same functionality as ordinary bluetooth on non-Apple phones I had to get a £30

  • They've decided to only run over their own employees during the testing/learning phase.
  • This is not news.

  • Apple does not make its own phone, laptops or anything else as far as I know. All contract manufacturing. Even car companies outsource a large fraction of cars. Manufacturing is also not nearly as profitable as software. Making one more is not sending another copy of the sw via the internet.

  • While I like Apple, the approach of having to own everything cannot lend itself to all things. This could be a point for competitors to exploit.

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