News continues to make it clear that Apple is not through with Project Titan. At this point, the company may not be through with the Apple Car itself. Alexander Hitzinger, designer of the Porsche that won the 2015 and 2016 Le Mans championships, left Porsche in March, to join a technology company. His LinkedIn profile noted his departure from Porsche, as well as his “tech company” position. However, no details were provided as to what tech company, except that it was based in the San Francisco Bay Area. Now we know that it was not Tesla.
Sources close to Hitzinger stated that he had ambitions to be a part of something that will have a profound and direct impact on society. He developed the Porsche 919 hybrid sports car “from scratch.” Hitzinger’s main expertise lies in lightweight carbon fiber manufacturing, along with electric power delivery and energy recovery. He quickly developed a reputation at Porsche after hiring and building up a development team, and reworking organizational structure for the company’s racing division. He took a small project with a staff of ten and expanded it to over 150 employees, with substantial successes.
This isn’t the first time that we have heard of Apple taking an interest in racing. There was word earlier in the year that Apple was in talks to buy McLaren. Also, of the many employees that Apple has allegedly poached for its Project Titan team, several of which have been automotive experts, other racing-related names have been tossed around. This all seems a bit peculiar, as lately we have heard that Apple is no longer working on the car itself, but instead, the autonomous technology, independent of any “actual” vehicle. But the possible acquisition of McLaren, and now Hitzinger’s involvement, lend themselves more to the engineering of that actual car. Especially with regard to the design, carbon fiber manufacturing and powertrain aspects. None of which have any place in a self-driving suite of technology.
This all comes quickly after Apple’s letter to the NHTSA went public, asking regulators to go easy on new entrants to the self-driving vehicle race. On top of all of this, patent documents were discovered that Apple has submitted related to collision avoidance technology. Obviously, the company won’t go far with autonomous vehicle systems without that particular technology in place. Based on the information, Apple’s collision avoidanace technology will be somewhat unique and innovative.
Hmm … Christmas Eve is right around the corner once again … but don’t expect Apple to let any cats out of any bags anytime soon.