After failing to reach an agreement for self-driving cars with Daimler and BMW, Apple has finally found a partner as it reportedly signed a deal with Volkswagen.
Apple’s negotiations with Daimler and BMW failed because the technology giant allegedly required to hand over control of the data and design. According to the New York Times, Apple then turned to VW and signed a deal to turn T6 Transporter vans into autonomous shuttles for Apple employees.
The agreement is part of Apple’s infamous Project Titan that started in 2015 with the goal of building an autonomous electric vehicle. Following development and management problems, Apple shifted Project Titan’s focus to autonomous technologies. For Apple, the project of self-driving shuttles for the employees is already behind schedule and consumes all of the company’s car team attention, according to sources with knowledge of the matter.
Apple is currently running a fleet of 55 Lexus SUVs fitted with its self-driving technology on public roads in California. The new deal with VW will bring the two companies together in order to convert the T6 Transporter into an electric autonomous shuttle at Italdesign’s lab in Italy.
Apple is said to replace many parts of the Transporter, including the dashboard and seats. Additional computers, sensors and a large battery pack is of course a given. The electric shuttles will ferry employees between two of Apple’s Silicon Valley campuses, with a driver behind the wheel at all times to take control if needed and an operator in the passenger’s seat tracking the vehicle’s performance.