Apple's secretive "Project Titan" car team has shifted gears, insiders say. Sources tell Bloomberg that the team is now concentrating on creating a fully self-driving vehicle and aims to launch it by 2025. Bloomberg's sources say the company recently reached a "key milestone in developing the car’s underlying self-driving system," with much of the work on the advanced new processor completed. The sources say that if Apple is unable to complete the self-driving technology on schedule, it's not clear whether the company will delay the vehicle's release or come out with a vehicle with limited self-driving capabilities, like many already on the market.
The Apple team's goal is to create a vehicle with no steering wheel, in which passengers would face each other as in a limousine, with the vehicle controlled through an iPad-like interface, the sources say. Apple has recently stepped up hiring for the project, seeking numerous engineers with auto industry experience, as well as engineers to work on "experiences for human interaction with autonomous technology." Bloomberg's sources say the company has discussed creating a fleet of self-driving cars to compete with Uber or Lyft, but it is more likely to sell the vehicles to individuals.
Apple's share price rose to a record high after news of the self-driving timeline emerged Friday, though some analysts warn that legal and technological barriers could delay the adoption of fully self-driving cars in the US long past 2025, CNBC reports. Sean O'Kane at the Verge notes that the Apple car project has undergone many changes in focus since it was launched in 2015. Apple Watch software executive Kevin Lynch took over the project in September after Doug Field departed for a job at Ford. The accelerated timeline could be a sign progress is being made under Lynch, or it could end up as the "newest footnote in whatever the project turns into next," O'Kane writes. (Read more Apple stories.)