What happened to Apple’s self-driving car? 

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Apple logo

Only a couple years ago, bombshell reports surfaced. Apple, the longtime computer, smartphone, and technology company, was ready to build its very own car. Not just a car, but a self-driving car.

Flash-forward to 2017 and things have changed—drastically, at that. Apple has scaled back its car operations, and instead, the focus has been placed on self-driving car software, not a vehicle itself. What happened? The New York Times spoke with five people who are familiar with Apple’s car plans—Project Titan—and each discussed what went on behind the scenes that led to the demise of the Apple self-driving car—at least for the time being.

Foremost, the group of five said the project often lacked clarity and engineers attempted to pull Project Titan in many different directions. These included a semi-autonomous car, a fully self-driving car, software, and various radical facets never before seen in the automobile. Motorized doors, augmented reality, and spherical wheels were all on the drawing board at once. It sounds like a great brainstorming session, but the various ideas would become Project Titan’s downfall.

The do-it-all approach, a road often traveled by Apple, didn’t work with its car plans. Shifting priorities and unrealistic deadlines eroded morale on the team and project leader Steve Zadesky left the project altogether. The Apple car was dead.

Last year, Apple’s plans were reignited when Bob Mansfield took the helm and brought in fresh faces. This time, plans for a physical car were shelved and experts in autonomous systems were brought in, while those focused on hardware were laid off.

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