The Apple electric car project, codenamed “Titan,” is an electric car project allegedly undergoing research and development by Apple Inc. Apple still has yet to openly discuss any of its self-driving research, with around 5,000 employees disclosed on the project as of 2018.
In May 2018, Apple reportedly partnered with Volkswagen to produce an autonomous employee shuttle van based on the T6 Transporter commercial vehicle platform.
In August 2018, the BBC reported that Apple had 66 road-registered driverless cars, with 111 drivers registered to operate those cars. The Wall Street Journal reported on July 25, 2016 that Apple had hired Bob Mansfield to lead the Titan project. And now, Apple has recently picked up one of Tesla’s senior designers, Andrew Kim.
After spending two years at the automaker working on design for many Tesla vehicles, even unreleased models, Kim is now continuing his design work on undisclosed projects at Apple. It’s not a stretch to assume the Titan project is something Kim is working on.
A couple weeks back, Kim shared on Instagram about his first day at Apple with his title on LinkedIn set as “Designer.” For the last couple of years, Apple’s focus has shifted from building its own autonomous vehicle to building an autonomous vehicle system. CEO Tim Cook shared this in an interview last year: “We’re focusing on autonomous systems, and clearly one purpose of autonomous systems is self-driving cars. There are others, and we sort of see it as the mother of all AI projects.”
A couple of months later, a New York Times piece reported that Apple’s big car effort, Project Titan, had shifted to more or less building a CarOS for other automakers to use.
However, the news that Andrew Kim has joined Apple may reignite speculation that Apple is working on its own vehicle after all. As noted by The Verge, Kim’s work included designing the interior of the Tesla Model 3: “Kim said that his focus at Tesla was on designing the cabin space inside the Model 3, a challenge that had to balance the needs of a car that could be driven by both a human and, eventually, a computer.”
With Kim’s background and Apple also bringing back Doug Field from Tesla to work with Bob Mansfiled on Project Titan, there could be some new developments or changes for Apple’s auto plans.
However, with Kim’s background at Microsoft on HoloLens, he could be focusing on Apple’s in-progress smart glasses that could arrive in 2020 or another similar AR project.