Apple scales back its ambitions for a self-driving auto

Apple reportedly working on self-driving employee shuttle for its campuses

Apple focusing on self-driving technology, not building cars: report

The shuttle, nicknamed PAIL - that's short for Palo Alto to Infinite Loop - will be based on a commercial vehicle from an existing auto company, outfitted with Apple's own self-driving technology.

Apple has made a decision to shift its end goals in the self-driving technology arena.

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Apple stepped up to regain course in the project a year ago when it put longtime executive Bob Mansfield, in charge of Titan. (AAPL) is working on a self-driving shuttle service to ferry employees within its sprawling campus, the New York Times reported.

Back in April, the California DMV granted Apple permission to test its autonomous system in three Lexus RX540h SUVs on the state's roads, one of which was reportedly spotted out in the wild - but the rumored shuttle service will probably look more like the University of Michigan's MCity shuttle program launching this school year. It's a move that makes sense: leave the car-making to the carmakers, and instead focus on the technology side of autonomous vehicles.

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It seemed everything was going well for Apple in their pursuit of creating the next big thing- future Model-T, only for Tim Cook to say to Bloomberg earlier this year that Apple is now focusing on autonomous systems and are working on the underlying technology behind self-driving cars and not an Apple branded vehicle. Engineers not only tried to write a "CarOS" to control autonomous vehicles, but investigated details like motorized doors and interior that featured augmented-reality displays, but lacked steering wheels and pedals. Cook mentioned how the modern descendants of the Model- T would be shaken to the very chassis, with the growing importance of software and shift away from internal combustion engine, along with the rise of autonomous vehicles.

These days, Apple's automotive ambitions are more modest. Executive Steve Zadesky, originally in charge of Titan, preferred to build a semi-autonomous vehicle, much as Tesla has now. There was fierce debate about whether it should be programmed using Swift, Apple's own programming language, or the industry standard, C++. It is specifically seeking out people with autonomous vehicle software experience. The shuttle will transport employees from one building to another. What we didn't know were many specifics about what Apple thought it could do if it did build a vehicle.

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Apple reps declined to comment when we reached out abouy the report, which is unsurprising given the company's policy to stay mum on product rumors.

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