Apple recruits senior Waymo engineer & NASA veteran for self-driving car project

Posted:
in Future Apple Hardware
The latest addition to Apple's self-driving car team is Jaime Waydo, previously a senior engineer at Alphabet's Waymo as well as NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Apple testbed car


Waydo was "instrumental" at Waymo, some of her former coworkers told The Information. Specifically she was responsible for checking the safety of prototypes, and helped coach the company on when it was okay to begin real-world road tests in Phoenix.

Before that the engineer was with JPL for over a decade, where her signature work was developing one of NASA's Mars rovers.

The implications of the hire are uncertain, but safety has become a paramount concern in the self-driving car industry following a death caused by an Uber vehicle and multiple accidents involving partially autonomous Tesla cars. Apple has been steadily growing its test fleet, and may need more people for quality control.

The state of Apple's self-driving project is otherwise uncertain. The company started out designing its own electric vehicle under the codename "Project Titan," but soon scaled back to platform work. Its long-term goal may be the ridehailing market, most likely in partnership with one or more third parties.

Recently the company reportedly signed a deal with Volkswagen to use T6 Transporter vans for its PAIL (Palo Alto to Infinite Loop) shuttle network. The project is allegedly behind schedule, and consuming most of the Apple car division's time. Even once the shuttles are ready it's expected that they'll still have a backup driver and a co-pilot.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 29
    SoliSoli Posts: 8,172member
    Does anyone still think that Apple isn’t actively working on this with this news?
    cornchipwatto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 29
    chasmchasm Posts: 769member
    "The state of Apple's self-driving project is otherwise uncertain. The company started out designing its own electric vehicle under the codename "Project Titan," but soon scaled back to platform work."

    This paragraph is stated as fact despite zero supporting evidence that Apple was ever working on anything other than the same project they are working on now. There's a difference between stating facts and repeating an accepted (but likely to be at least partially inaccurate) media-invented narrative, as I think we all learned (well, most of us learned) from last quarter's "the iPhone X is a flop" narrative.

    Show me an interview with some former employee who worked on the project or other proof that Apple was ever actually building its own branded electric car before claiming that as fact, please. The only "evidence" I've seen of this ever has been links to other stories from the echo chamber conjecturing the same thing.
    edited June 15 StrangeDaystmayRayz2016claire1watto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 29
    SoliSoli Posts: 8,172member
    chasm said:
    "The state of Apple's self-driving project is otherwise uncertain. The company started out designing its own electric vehicle under the codename "Project Titan," but soon scaled back to platform work."

    This paragraph is stated as fact despite zero supporting evidence that Apple was ever working on anything other than the same project they are working on now. There's a difference between stating facts and repeating an accepted (but likely to be at least partially inaccurate) media-invented narrative, as I think we all learned (well, most of us learned) from last quarter's "the iPhone X is a flop" narrative.

    Show me an interview with some former employee who worked on the project or other proof that Apple was ever actually building its own electric car before claiming that as fact, please. The only "evidence" I've seen of this ever has been links to other stories from the echo chamber conjecturing the same thing.
    Would you at least say that Project Titan, or whatever it may have evolved into, is still active? I don't know if Apple was ever committed to their own car—electric or otherwise—but I think the autonomous driving aspect seems almost certain. I certainly can't think of anything less than an autonomous driving system for this project.
    chasm
  • Reply 4 of 29
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 6,292member
    Soli said:
    Does anyone still think that Apple isn’t actively working on this with this news?
    I think they are working on the software for it, not necessarily the car itself. In my own opinion they should be looking to partner with Tesla, BMW, Mercedes, Audi, or other premium automobile manufacturer to provide the hardware, perhaps even with the Apple logo on it. I can’t imagine myself being able to afford a vehicle like that though. My max price range would be <50K at my stage in life. 
    chasmlamboaudi4watto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 29
    SoliSoli Posts: 8,172member
    lkrupp said:
    Soli said:
    Does anyone still think that Apple isn’t actively working on this with this news?
    I think they are working on the software for it, not necessarily the car itself. In my own opinion they should be looking to partner with Tesla, BMW, Mercedes, Audi, or other premium automobile manufacturer to provide the hardware, perhaps even with the Apple logo on it. I can’t imagine myself being able to afford a vehicle like that though. My max price range would be <50K at my stage in life. 
    I like that idea and have floated it many times over the years and I got a lot of pushback at first because Apple has a long history of controlling the whole product. Even if we accept that Apple is willing to effectively be like "Intel Inside" or "Windows Everywhere" in the future of automobiles (which I'd like in terms of trust and security over countless other companies), there are some major logistical issues for that happen.

    For starters, why would any of those companies pay Apple when they already have their solutions in place and in R&D? I'd think Apple would have to be so far ahead of these automotive makers and the cost for them be so high that they'd be willing willing to scrap their own projects to integrate with Apple's solution. But even then how would HW support be handled? Apple silicon could be a requirement, but what about all the sensors used by the automotive maker which are sourced from vendors? If anyone can figure that out I think Apple under Cook can, but I still can't see a clear path regardless of the scenario I imagine.

    PS: Tesla still doesn't offer CarPlay so I'm not expecting them to jump into Apple's lap with autonomous driving.
    edited June 15 watto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 29
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 29,756member
    A guy whose last name is "Waydo" worked at Waymo? You just can't make this stuff up!
    cornchipchasmpatchythepirate
  • Reply 7 of 29
    rogifan_newrogifan_new Posts: 3,173member
    lkrupp said:
    Soli said:
    Does anyone still think that Apple isn’t actively working on this with this news?
    I think they are working on the software for it, not necessarily the car itself. In my own opinion they should be looking to partner with Tesla, BMW, Mercedes, Audi, or other premium automobile manufacturer to provide the hardware, perhaps even with the Apple logo on it. I can’t imagine myself being able to afford a vehicle like that though. My max price range would be <50K at my stage in life. 
    All these companies are doing their own software. Why would they want or need software from Apple? The last rumor we heard about this project claimed talks broke down with BMW and Mercedes because Apple wanted control over design and both companies said no. I can’t see Apple sticking its logo on someone else design.
    cornchipclaire1
  • Reply 8 of 29
    nunzynunzy Posts: 658member
    AppleCar will be the safest car, because Apple will build security in from the ground up. They might not allow you to use any other mapping app, for example, because you might get misdirected that way.


  • Reply 9 of 29
    rogifan_newrogifan_new Posts: 3,173member

    Soli said:
    lkrupp said:
    Soli said:
    Does anyone still think that Apple isn’t actively working on this with this news?
    I think they are working on the software for it, not necessarily the car itself. In my own opinion they should be looking to partner with Tesla, BMW, Mercedes, Audi, or other premium automobile manufacturer to provide the hardware, perhaps even with the Apple logo on it. I can’t imagine myself being able to afford a vehicle like that though. My max price range would be <50K at my stage in life. 
    I like that idea and have floated it many times over the years and I got a lot of pushback at first because Apple has a long history of controlling the whole product. Even if we accept that Apple is willing to effectively be like "Intel Inside" or "Windows Everywhere" in the future of automobiles (which I'd like in terms of trust and security over countless other companies), there are some major logistical issues for that happen.

    For starters, why would any of those companies pay Apple when they already have their solutions in place and in R&D? I'd think Apple would have to be so far ahead of these automotive makers and the cost for them be so high that they'd be willing willing to scrap their own projects to integrate with Apple's solution. But even then how would HW support be handled? Apple silicon could be a requirement, but what about all the sensors used by the automotive maker which are sourced from vendors? If anyone can figure that out I think Apple under Cook can, but I still can't see a clear path regardless fo the scenario I imagine.

    PS: Tesla still doesn't offer CarPlay so I'm not expecting them to jump into Apple's lap with autonomous driving.
    The most difficult part of autonomous/self driving vehicles is the software. And the type of software Apple isn’t known for. I’m surprised at how many believe Apple couldn’t design and build an electric vehicle but could design and build the software to run someone else’s vehicle.
    muthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 10 of 29
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 6,292member
    lkrupp said:
    Soli said:
    Does anyone still think that Apple isn’t actively working on this with this news?
    I think they are working on the software for it, not necessarily the car itself. In my own opinion they should be looking to partner with Tesla, BMW, Mercedes, Audi, or other premium automobile manufacturer to provide the hardware, perhaps even with the Apple logo on it. I can’t imagine myself being able to afford a vehicle like that though. My max price range would be <50K at my stage in life. 
    All these companies are doing their own software. Why would they want or need software from Apple? The last rumor we heard about this project claimed talks broke down with BMW and Mercedes because Apple wanted control over design and both companies said no. I can’t see Apple sticking its logo on someone else design.
    Car companies are notoriously bad at software. Just look at the crap they pawn off on us as entertainment systems. It’s why Car Play and Android Auto exist. They also suck at built-in GPS navigations systems. My 2016 Ford F-150 still doesn’t know about the new Stan Musial Veterans Memorial bridge (opened in 2014) over the Mississippi river at St. Louis and the dealer wants $150 to “upgrade” the navigation system with no guarantee the new bridge will be present. So I think it would be in the best interests of both Apple and car maker like BMW to cooperate. 

    But you are probably right, both companies want total control and all the glory. I just don’t see Apple manufacturing an automobile.
    StrangeDayswatto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 11 of 29
    rogifan_newrogifan_new Posts: 3,173member
    lkrupp said:
    lkrupp said:
    Soli said:
    Does anyone still think that Apple isn’t actively working on this with this news?
    I think they are working on the software for it, not necessarily the car itself. In my own opinion they should be looking to partner with Tesla, BMW, Mercedes, Audi, or other premium automobile manufacturer to provide the hardware, perhaps even with the Apple logo on it. I can’t imagine myself being able to afford a vehicle like that though. My max price range would be <50K at my stage in life. 
    All these companies are doing their own software. Why would they want or need software from Apple? The last rumor we heard about this project claimed talks broke down with BMW and Mercedes because Apple wanted control over design and both companies said no. I can’t see Apple sticking its logo on someone else design.
    Car companies are notoriously bad at software. Just look at the crap they pawn off on us as entertainment systems. It’s why Car Play and Android Auto exist. They also suck at built-in GPS navigations systems. My 2016 Ford F-150 still doesn’t know about the new Stan Musial Veterans Memorial bridge (opened in 2014) over the Mississippi river at St. Louis and the dealer wants $150 to “upgrade” the navigation system with no guarantee the new bridge will be present. So I think it would be in the best interests of both Apple and car maker like BMW to cooperate. 

    But you are probably right, both companies want total control and all the glory. I just don’t see Apple manufacturing an automobile.
    Car Play is not even close to autonomous/self driving software.  A partnership isn’t going to happen because Apple will want control of the design of the vehicle which established automakers will never give them. Also I don’t think we can use infotainment UI to gauge how well car companies are at autonomous/self driving vehicles. Software is so different. I still think Apple could partner with a ride sharing service or create their own and build vehicles for that.
  • Reply 12 of 29
    SoliSoli Posts: 8,172member
    lkrupp said:
    lkrupp said:
    Soli said:
    Does anyone still think that Apple isn’t actively working on this with this news?
    I think they are working on the software for it, not necessarily the car itself. In my own opinion they should be looking to partner with Tesla, BMW, Mercedes, Audi, or other premium automobile manufacturer to provide the hardware, perhaps even with the Apple logo on it. I can’t imagine myself being able to afford a vehicle like that though. My max price range would be <50K at my stage in life. 
    All these companies are doing their own software. Why would they want or need software from Apple? The last rumor we heard about this project claimed talks broke down with BMW and Mercedes because Apple wanted control over design and both companies said no. I can’t see Apple sticking its logo on someone else design.
    Car companies are notoriously bad at software. Just look at the crap they pawn off on us as entertainment systems. It’s why Car Play and Android Auto exist. They also suck at built-in GPS navigations systems. My 2016 Ford F-150 still doesn’t know about the new Stan Musial Veterans Memorial bridge (opened in 2014) over the Mississippi river at St. Louis and the dealer wants $150 to “upgrade” the navigation system with no guarantee the new bridge will be present. So I think it would be in the best interests of both Apple and car maker like BMW to cooperate. 

    But you are probably right, both companies want total control and all the glory. I just don’t see Apple manufacturing an automobile.
    Car Play is not even close to autonomous/self driving software.
    I think that's his point. If you can't even make toast properly you can't be expected to cook for a large fancy dinner party.
    entropysStrangeDaysRayz2016
  • Reply 13 of 29
    I think BMW will file for bankruptcy in < 3 years.
    edited June 15
  • Reply 14 of 29
    fastasleepfastasleep Posts: 1,727member
    nunzy said:
    AppleCar will be the safest car, because Apple will build security in from the ground up. They might not allow you to use any other mapping app, for example, because you might get misdirected that way.


    Yet iOS 12 brings 3rd party maps to CarPlay, so...
    nunzy
  • Reply 15 of 29
    entropysentropys Posts: 1,207member
    I am with Soli and Lkrupp. Look at the infotainment systems in hold out Toyota. CarPlay is a superior UI for an infotainment system and always will be as it is too easy to keep up to date.
    The resistance of car makers is built on how best to monetise the software. Entertainment systems were used for years to upsell to higher spec models. CarPlay has ruined that business model.
    Autonomous systems will be the same montisation upsell if the automakers could “engineer” that outcome. An Apple system though would work the same no matter what spec.

    And that is a minor thing before you get to the regulatory, legal and liability issues to be resolved. 

    edited June 15
  • Reply 16 of 29
    cornchipcornchip Posts: 1,082member
    My personal take:

    Apple realized the car design & hardware we’re going to be the easiest part, and the software, mapping, R&D, production&facilities etc. were going to be the most difficult part and hence, are focusing on those difficult parts before designing the door handles.
    StrangeDays
  • Reply 17 of 29
    foggyhillfoggyhill Posts: 4,735member
    Using contract manufacturer to build cars in the future will be the norm and Apple will go that way.

    people are can’t explain why Apple invested 1 b in the Chinese Uber, that’s the strangest investment t’héberge made and gives you a hint that initially at least they may not be building consumer cars. But they’re also not merely selling their software to others. At that game, you become a component in somebody else’s value and I don’t ever see Apple going there. CarPlay and the like is not the same
  • Reply 18 of 29
    chasmchasm Posts: 769member
    A guy whose last name is "Waydo" worked at Waymo? You just can't make this stuff up!
    This "guy" isn't a guy, according to the story.
    edited June 15 StrangeDaysmuthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 19 of 29
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 29,756member
    chasm said:
    A guy whose last name is "Waydo" worked at Waymo? You just can't make this stuff up!
    This "guy" isn't a guy, according to the story.
    You’re right, but I’m not changing my comment.
  • Reply 20 of 29
    claire1claire1 Posts: 345unconfirmed, member
    foggyhill said:
    Using contract manufacturer to build cars in the future will be the norm and Apple will go that way.

    people are can’t explain why Apple invested 1 b in the Chinese Uber, that’s the strangest investment t’héberge made and gives you a hint that initially at least they may not be building consumer cars. But they’re also not merely selling their software to others. At that game, you become a component in somebody else’s value and I don’t ever see Apple going there. CarPlay and the like is not the same
    I doubt that. Apple will design the Car. I don't know why, when it comes to cars, people still think of the Apple from 1995 with 1 million dollars in the bank.

    I'm sure they invested in Didi to get a foothold in car data and possibly expansion with an Apple Car service.

    cornchip said:
    My personal take:

    Apple realized the car design & hardware we’re going to be the easiest part, and the software, mapping, R&D, production&facilities etc. were going to be the most difficult part and hence, are focusing on those difficult parts before designing the door handles.

    I figure Apple will release it when it's ready. I'm sure Apple could have released the Watch years prior and HomePod too but they didn't wanna release an unfinished product.
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