Apple's driverless car project Titan has morphed into a staff shuttle bus as reports suggest a scaling back of ambitions

Lynsey Barber
Follow Lynsey
Apples iPhone Arrives In Australia
Source: Getty

Apple's driverless car project, long-rumoured and only recently confirmed by boss Tim Cook, looks like it might be taking a back seat at the company.

Its ambitions have been scaled back from a fully autonomous Apple car, to a shuttle bus for staff.

Read more: "Hey Siri": Now you can transfer money with just your voice

A self-driving shuttle will soon be ferrying employees back and forth between offices, according to the New York Times citing unnamed sources, nicknamed PAIL. That stands for Palo Alto to Infinite Loop, the locations of Apple Silicon Valley headquarters.

Apple's Titan car project (though many had dubbed it iCar) has been secretly putting the autonomus technology to the test for some years now, with suggestions late last year that it was being downscaled.

Apple has been a secretive as ever not commenting, but sources told the NYT the size and lack of clarity on what Apple wants are behind the pull back.

The sheer scale of such an endeavour has become increasingly clear.

The driverless car race involves endless numbers of tech companies (Google, Uber, Tesla), car companies (pretty much all of them) and startups (Oxbotica here in the UK, for example).

Read more: Meet the latest (fancier) Nokia smartphone taking on Apple and Samsung

Tesla boss Elon Musk oncec called Apple the "Tesla graveyard" for hiring its engineers, supposedly to work on an electric car, demonstrating just how cut-throat the race is.

There are 44 corporations working on getting self-driving cars on the road from Audi to Volkswagen, according to recent data from CB Insights, while investment in automotive startups have hit a record, surpassing $1bn in 2016. That's one crowded road ahead.

However, Apple may just be waiting for the right moment. As the NYT notes, it had been working on touchscreen technology well before the iPhone.

Apple's move to ditch UK chip supplier Imagination Technologies earlier this year hinted at the tech giant's thinking with making its own chips in house. Analysts have suggested this signals new categories that require greater processing, including driverless cars.

Related articles