UPDATE: Immediately after we published this, Appleinsider reported on Apple patents for the precise technology needed to make it a reality:
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on Tuesday granted Apple three patents covering laser-based positional and 3D mapping hardware, a keyboard with mechanical switches and capacitive touch sensitive keys, and optical interconnect technology .
Though the technology might not be destined for the next iPhone, Apple could be looking at potential computer vision integrations for its Project Titan automotive initiative. Self-driving cars operate in part by “seeing” the road and surrounding environment, a process that begins with adequate hardware.
Imagine if you could purchase a kit, hopefully installed by your dealer or a certified mechanic, and make your current vehicle into an autonomous vehicle. This would make perfect sense, since it will be forever before every car on the road has the technology, and thus the technology won’t be able to work to its full potential for many years to come.
Google has proven that you can make sensors and systems, install them onto a vehicle, and essentially turn it into a self-driving car. Why can’t this become a reality … and soon?
The truth is, it can. There is not any reason that this type of outfit will not become a reality. Also, there is nothing stopping it from happening sooner, rather than later. It will take a colossal tech company, with resources, finances, and most importantly experience and trust. Apple?
PC Magazine believes that Apple never had absolute intention to build and mass produce an Apple Car. But instead, the company is testing a product like the one explained above. An Apple Car “kit” of sorts, that will be able to be ordered from Apple and then controlled via your iPhone/iPad.
Apple obviously isn’t dropping its car project, since the company just hired Bob Mansfield to take over. The company has also had a tough time as of late, keeping the media away from leaks of conversations with the likes of Magna, McLaren, and Lit. Also, attention has been drawn to the fact that the company has already hired some Lit employees, and has Magna employees at work in its secret Project Titan buildings in Sunnyvale. Not to mention the several strange, related patents. Apple is onto something transportation related, without a doubt. We just aren’t sure what.
This is not to say that at one point in time, Tim Cook and company may have entertained the idea of an actual car, or a fleet of cars. Maybe the car will come after the Advanced Apple CarPlay Self-Driving apparatus. Maybe there will never be a mass-produced Apple Car, or it will be made by another company. The Apple team has had some time to experiment and digest their findings, and have hopefully come to a consensus as to what direction and timeline is best.
Tim Bajarin from PC Mag pointed out:
My personal belief is that Project Titan is not about creating an Apple Car. It just does not make sense given the competition from traditional auto makers. Instead, the biggest opportunity I see for Apple is creating software that makes existing cars smart or autonomous … In a recent LinkedIn post by Dan Lyons (aka Fake Steve Jobs), he stated that we might eventually “think of a car as just a container for software and services, a node on the Internet of Things.” I believe this is at the heart of what Project Titan is really all about.
Obviously, the Apple Car kit would be expensive and one can bet that Apple would charge a fortune for Apple certified installers etc. But, it would sure beat buying a brand new autonomous vehicle. The company already has customer service down to a science, and stores everywhere for support. Showrooms are being built in some stores that could display a car, complete with the system installed. With Apple’s style and reputation, we know that it would be aesthetically pleasing (Jony Ive would have it no other way) and would be sure to catch on as something that everyone would want to get.
It wasn’t very long ago that the smartphone and then the iPod and iPhone came to be, followed by the iPad. Now it seems everyone has one of each. This is surely a perfect solution to the mystery of Project Titan and the Apple Car. It answers so many questions and really puts everything into perspective if you think about it. Didi Chuxing? Small, hollow batteries? Tesla vehicles on site for comparison? Autonomous Apple vans driving on public roads with retrofit systems?
If Apple doesn’t do it, or Google, Uber or others aren’t about to beat them to the finish line, it’s hard not to guarantee that someone will be working to retrofit vehicles with autonomous technology in the very near future and we can only imagine that there will be huge business in it. There are multi-billions of truly amazing vehicles out there that aren’t going anywhere and could be simply adapted for the future. The possibilities really are endless.