Apple has teamed up with Volkswagen to get the latter’s T6 Transporter vans transformed into self-driving vehicles, The New York Times reported. While this can be an indication of the coming of age of sorts of the Cupertino giant’s efforts in the self-driving space so far, T6 vans will only be used to shuttle Apple employees from its Palo Alto campus to Infinite Loop for now.
Interestingly, that also contributes to the naming of the service, which at PAIL comprises of the intial letters of the destinations that the shuttle service will cater to at the moment. Apple had earlier stated they are scaling down its self-driving car ambitions under Project Titan to developing just the technology that enables a car to drive on its own. Earlier, the project envisaged developing an entire futuristic self-driving car from scratch, which no doubt would have been a far more intensive operation for even seasoned car makers.
Apple’s teaming up with Volkswagen is also ins’t the first option that the iPhone maker had thought of. For its comes only after its offers got spurned by the more top-tier companies like BMW and Mercedes. That again has to do with Apple’s demand for sharing with it the entire design of the car, something that the German luxury car makers refused to oblige to.
That is not all as Apple too wasn’t eager to share all the data that the test cars generate, which is another reason any sort of partnership with either BMW or Mercedes got nipped right at the bud. However, this should still serve Apple’s purpose considering that they had set out to develop the technology needed to transform a car to a self-driving one, and the more vehicle or brand agnostic it is the better.
Unfortunately, further details on Apple’s plans with the T6 vans is any body’s guess at the moment. That includes the likely schedule when the service can be expected to become live, or the scope of it when it eventually does. Like whether it is going to be fully autonomous or will have a human driver at hand, or if more VW models too will be included in its ambit and so on.
Apple meanwhile has the second biggest fleet of self-driving cars in operation with 55 Lexus SUVs. That is second only to General Motors that has a fleet of 104 vehicles registers with the California Department of Motor Vehicles as self-driving test cars.