While rumors of new iPhones, Apple Watches, MacBooks, and iPads come and go before major releases, one Apple rumor has persisted for over a year now. Talks of a car designed and built by Apple first surfaced last February, and since then, the project, called “Project Titan”, has grown substantially in size and scope.
The team of employees working on Project Titan employs over 2,000 workers, many of which former experts from Tesla, Ford, Mercedes Benz, BMW, and a host of other auto manufacturers. Well, add an expert from Blackberry to the list. Apple has just hired the former head of Blackberry’s automotive software division, placing him in a role at Project Titan.
According to Bloomberg, Apple has hired on Dan Dodge, former head of the car software unit of Blackberry. Dodge is also the co-creator of the QNX Realtime operating system, a mobile OS that was originally developed for embedded systems, and was later bought by Blackberry and adapted for use in the Blackberry Playbook tablet as well as in the company’s future smartphones. More importantly, QNX is used in navigation and entertainment software for automakers such as Volkswagen, Daimler, and Ford, some of which work with Apple’s CarPlay platform.
Dodge will reportedly be working as part of a team headed by Bob Mansfield, who, according to Bloomberg, has “heralded a shift in strategy” in the project. Although plans of developing an Apple designed and branded vehicle are still present in Project Titan, the priority now lies in the development of an autonomous driving system. The development of such a system would leave the option open for Apple “should the company eventually decide to partner with or acquire an established car maker, rather than building a car itself.”
While Apple has by-and-large kept their mouths shut about Project Titan, earlier reports claimed that Apple was eyeing a 2019-2020 target ship date for the Apple-branded automobile. If the rumors are true that Project Titan is shifting priorities, with an autonomous driving system pushing the automobile to the background, a new target ship date for the “Apple Car” would likely be in limbo.
Although Apple has been tight-lipped about the project, which Elon Musk calls an “open secret” in Silicon Valley, Apple CEO Tim Cook dropped some vague hints about the project this past February. During an annual shareholder meeting, when asked about the car, Cook replied, “Do you remember when you were a kid and Christmas Eve was so exciting? You weren’t sure what was going on downstairs? Well, it’s going to be Christmas Eve for awhile.” Whatever is going on at Project Titan, it will be exciting to see the result.
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