Sean O'Kane/The Verge
Apple has completed “much of the core work” on a new processor meant to power its secretive autonomous electric car project known as Titan, Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman reports. The milestone comes as Apple is reportedly now accelerating its timeline for the autonomous car it’s developing, with a new target of launching it in just four years.
Apple’s own silicon team designed the chip, which Gurman says is the “most advanced component” that’s been developed for the project so far. The company is apparently getting ready to put the chip through its real-world paces in its fleet of test vehicles in California and hopes to make a vehicle with “stronger safeguards than what’s available from Tesla and Waymo,” according to the report.
The goal now for Project Titan, after multiple pivots, is to create an autonomous car that does not have a steering wheel. The interior would be spacious and look more like the limousine-style seating arrangement that EV startup Canoo has promoted in its electric van prototypes. Apple was at one point in talks to acquire Canoo, as The Verge reported earlier this year, and recently hired one of the startup’s co-founders. There would be a large, iPad-style touchscreen display that will run a user interface similar to iOS.
The business model is reportedly still undecided, though. Apple has considered trying to create a self-driving fleet to compete with Uber, Lyft, and Waymo (something Tesla has proposed but is still very far from executing), but Gurman reports that the “more likely scenario” is that Apple will sell the cars to individuals.
On the electric vehicle side of things, Apple is reportedly not looking to develop a proprietary charging cable for the car. Instead, it wants to make the vehicle compatible with the “combined charging system,” or CCS standard, which would make it possible to charge the vehicle at most public fast charging stations.
Of course, all of this comes after years of reported changes to the project, which was started in 2014. Five different executives have run Project Titan after Apple Watch lead Kevin Lynch took over earlier this year. The refocusing and timeline shift reported by Bloomberg could be a sign that there’s real progress being made with him at the helm, or it could just become the newest footnote in whatever the project turns into next.