Rumour: Apple signs deal with VW for autonomous cars


In 2015, it was reported that Apple was to start developing its own autonomous vehicle. Now, media reports indicate that the company has partnered with Volkswagen for the development of self-driving vehicles based on the T6 Transporter van.

According to a media report, Apple's car project is running behind schedule and has seen a reduction in the total number of employees working on this from a peak of 1,000 workers over two year ago. The partnership with Volkswagen is likely to see Apple add its software in the vans and use them as employee-shuttles in the Cupertino campus.

Initially, Apple had tried to get partners who would supply them with chassis and wheels, but later asked for wholly built cars on top of which the company would retrofit its sensors and use custom software. It was reported that the company bought two Lexus SUVs in late 2015 and retrofitted them with sensors.

In 2016, it secured a permit for autonomous vehicle testing in California, leading to an increased testing fleet of 55 SUVs. However, Lexus was not a partner and Apple looked at Magna Steyr, BMW and Mercedes. The company also met Nissan, in Japan, BYD Auto in China and McLaren in Britain, but the partnerships didn't materialise.

Apple partnered with Volkswagen after the dieselgate incident. The German company was also lagging in the development of self-driving cars. It is reported that a lab near Turin, Italy run by Volkswagen subsidiary Italdesign, will convert the T6 vans into electric self-driven vehicles. All these will not just have a driver, who can take over the controls of the van, but also another person monitoring the van's performance.

Source - New York Times

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