Apple testing AR-based car navigation and self-driving software with virtual reality rigs - report

Posted:
in General Discussion edited October 2016
A fresh report about Apple's automotive ambitions claims that the company is continuing its shift away from building a whole car, and is instead developing software for self-driving vehicles, with recent hires being funneled into the effort.




According to Bloomberg sources familiar with the matter, Apple has hired away many engineers from BlackBerry's QNX project to work on the new Apple initiative. Now based on Kanata, an Ottawa suburb, the effort is said to be focusing on self-driving cars, with an augmented reality (AR) heads-up display integrating apps manipulatable by Siri and other hands-off technologies.

The testing of the prototypes is allegedly being performed in virtual reality (VR) simulators. The VR test rigs would allow Apple to evaluate new software behind closed doors, and to avoid taking prototypes onto public roads.

"We're in a global world of big technology companies fighting for talent," said BlackBerry's chief operating officer Marty Beard to Bloomberg, when asked about the recent departures of QNX personnel. "It's not surprising."

Key personnel said to be tied to the initiative in Canada are ex-QNX CEO Dan Dodge, and senior engineer Derrick Keefe.

Synchronicity between Apple's Car, AR, and VR ambitions

In September, Apple was rumored to have fired dozens of employees involved with Project Titan, with suggestions that the company was shifting to a more software-focused vision of the future of automobiles, rather than an Apple-produced bumper-to-bumper solution.

Regarding Apple's VR and AR ambitions, during Apple's January's quarterly report question and answer session, Cook said that VR was "cool" and noted that he didn't think it was a niche, but at the time he had little to say about its future at Apple.

"AR can be really great," Cook said in July's post-earnings report conference call. "We have been and continue to invest a lot in this. We are high on AR for the long run, we think there's great things for customers and a great commercial opportunity. So we're investing."

In a Washington Post interview in August, Cook said that "I think AR is extremely interesting and sort of a core technology," adding that "it's something we're doing a lot of things on behind that curtain."

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 19
    irelandireland Posts: 17,459member
    My hunch is Apple Car project hasn't stopped and won't. They're working on a car. Vertical company.
    monstrositylongpathcalirepressthisSpamSandwichJanNL
  • Reply 2 of 19
    ireland said:
    My hunch is Apple Car project hasn't stopped and won't. They're working on a car. Vertical company.
    Agreed + 2
    longpathcaliirelandrepressthis
  • Reply 3 of 19
    joshajosha Posts: 901member
    ireland said:
    My hunch is Apple Car project hasn't stopped and won't. They're working on a car. Vertical company.
    I sure hope Apple isn't working on a complete car.
    The computer technology for self driving is where Apple should be.
  • Reply 4 of 19
    While I can understand Apple's hesitance about becoming a car manufacturer, I struggle to see the commercial opportunity of them producing 'just' an AR-enhanced autonomous driving solution.

    Would they license this to one (or more) of the tradition car companies? That's not typically Apple's approach: they don't view themselves as a component supplier; they like to define and deliver the entire solution to the end user.
    longpathirelandrepressthisbadmonk
  • Reply 5 of 19
    I think they simply haven't worked out HOW they will get a car manufactured, whether buying a plant, buying existing company, or contracting out to order, or just license the software to everybody. Decisions for a later date. They are probably having fun drilling down throughbl this tech hnology and applying it to the windshield! I still wonder what has become of the Faraday plant...
    repressthisbadmonk
  • Reply 6 of 19
    calicali Posts: 3,495member
    If they nail the interface, the Car is coming.
    badmonk
  • Reply 7 of 19
    calicali Posts: 3,495member
    josha said:
    ireland said:
    My hunch is Apple Car project hasn't stopped and won't. They're working on a car. Vertical company.
    I sure hope Apple isn't working on a complete car.
    The computer technology for self driving is where Apple should be.
     At this point I wouldn't mind if they did both so they could be the android and Apple of cars. 
    badmonk
  • Reply 8 of 19
    canukstormcanukstorm Posts: 1,646member
    sog35 said:
    While I can understand Apple's hesitance about becoming a car manufacturer, I struggle to see the commercial opportunity of them producing 'just' an AR-enhanced autonomous driving solution.

    Would they license this to one (or more) of the tradition car companies? That's not typically Apple's approach: they don't view themselves as a component supplier; they like to define and deliver the entire solution to the end user.
    agree. That's why I believe they are making a complete car
    Didn't they just lay off pretty much all their car hardware engineers? Are you suggesting Apple is going to re-hire everyone? If you're right, chances are that McLaren investment has something to do with it.
    repressthisbadmonk
  • Reply 9 of 19
    paxmanpaxman Posts: 4,588member
    cali said:
    If they nail the interface, the Car is coming.
    Yes. Well... if by 'interface' you mean the interface AND the navigational technology behind it. If the -drive system works well and becomes the self driving system for a few automakers, I too, believe a car is coming. They will need to because the greater the success of -drive the less a quality car maker is going to want to allow Apple to overshadow them. I don't think Apple will actually build their own car factory and produce their own vehicle, of course - they will sub contract. And I also don't think an -car will be anything like the cars we see on the road today.
    repressthisbadmonk
  • Reply 10 of 19
    It took until early 2013 for 4G/LTE and a local place to procure iPhones arrived in wee, rural Olney, Ill. We have one new-car dealership. I would imagine such auto tech would take longer to trickle down. Although maybe it will be the Car That Just Works and maintenance and such would be a part of the past.
    rotateleftbytebadmonk
  • Reply 11 of 19
    Three things that make me somewhat sceptical about the idea of providing a complete "self-driving-system" are:
    1. Such a system is deeply tied into the car's hardware, e.g. Brake control, steering control and others. Things you cannot just "plug into". 
    2. OEM are more than reluctant not to be the "owners" of a car core system and depend on one supplier with a proprietary system. 
    3. OEM have understood the value of data and they will not just leave it to a supplier. That's been clear in struggles you can observe today with the trend of car OEMs' move from a plain car maker to a mobility company. 

    Very curious if Apple actually plans to go for a full blown car, cabs maybe?
    repressthisbadmonk
  • Reply 12 of 19
    irelandireland Posts: 17,459member
    Three things that make me somewhat sceptical about the idea of providing a complete "self-driving-system" are:
    1. Such a system is deeply tied into the car's hardware, e.g. Brake control, steering control and others. Things you cannot just "plug into". 
    2. OEM are more than reluctant not to be the "owners" of a car core system and depend on one supplier with a proprietary system. 
    3. OEM have understood the value of data and they will not just leave it to a supplier. That's been clear in struggles you can observe today with the trend of car OEMs' move from a plain car maker to a mobility company. 

    Very curious if Apple actually plans to go for a full blown car, cabs maybe?
    A cab is a car.
    repressthisfastasleep
  • Reply 13 of 19
    1st1st Posts: 260member
    josha said:
    ireland said:
    My hunch is Apple Car project hasn't stopped and won't. They're working on a car. Vertical company.
    I sure hope Apple isn't working on a complete car.
    The computer technology for self driving is where Apple should be.
    the future car need new design, away from the gas engin that required cooling air inlet, shift, gear, control panels for various meters.  just doing software without the overhaul of a car would be half assed job.  without restriction  of front engin compartment, completely different control panel for driveless car, it would be perfect time to optimize the whole car.  Tasla put all required hardware in every car they build is a smart move try to set up some kind of platform at this standardless early stage with sufficient installed base.  if apple just doing software only, it would risk to force to follow the std set by other company, specifically, car makers.  
    repressthisbadmonk
  • Reply 14 of 19
    It took until early 2013 for 4G/LTE and a local place to procure iPhones arrived in wee, rural Olney, Ill. We have one new-car dealership. I would imagine such auto tech would take longer to trickle down. Although maybe it will be the Car That Just Works and maintenance and such would be a part of the past.
    One thing I have noticed about cars in the US is that the rental cars I've had in the past few years need servicing every 6,000 miles.
    The very same model here in Europe needs a sevice every 12,000 miles/once a year. The exception was the Subaru that I reneted in Denver.
    Can anyone explain why this is?
    Is it just to keep the dealer networks in business? After all a lot of them seem to sell new cars at cost price (US Makers).
    My current car came with 5 years free servicing including oil etc.

  • Reply 15 of 19
    JinTechJinTech Posts: 316member
    Would they license this to one (or more) of the tradition car companies? That's not typically Apple's approach: they don't view themselves as a component supplier; they like to define and deliver the entire solution to the end user.
    Then what do you consider CarPlay?
    badmonk
  • Reply 16 of 19
    JinTech said:
    Would they license this to one (or more) of the tradition car companies? That's not typically Apple's approach: they don't view themselves as a component supplier; they like to define and deliver the entire solution to the end user.
    Then what do you consider CarPlay?
    Yes, you're right.

    Personally I still question Apple's interest in licensing a nav-system to car OEMs, but you're right that CarPlay has some similarities.
    edited October 2016 badmonk
  • Reply 17 of 19
    Unless they think that an AppleDrive system allows them to be on millions & millions of cars with high margins right out of the gate.  Though I am disappointed that a full car isn't being made this makes much more sense from a business perspective.
  • Reply 18 of 19
    JinTechJinTech Posts: 316member
    JinTech said:
    Would they license this to one (or more) of the tradition car companies? That's not typically Apple's approach: they don't view themselves as a component supplier; they like to define and deliver the entire solution to the end user.
    Then what do you consider CarPlay?
    Yes, you're right.

    Personally I still question Apple's interest in licensing a nav-system to car OEMs, but you're right that CarPlay has some similarities.
    As do I. Personally I think they are using it as a beta OS. In addition, I think that CarPlay is sending map data anonymously back to Apple to help them improve Maps for when their car (or whatever it is) ships, as well as to better Maps in iOS.

    There has got to be some reason why Apple created CarPlay, a bigger reason than just taking over the car console market.
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