We haven’t seen the last of the Apple Car

Adieu, Project Titan, we never knew ya.

But while Apple’s ambitious car project may have been left in the dust, that doesn’t mean it wasn’t a valuable experience, nor that it doesn’t continue to pay some dividends for the company. After a decade of work, billions in investment, and the work of hundreds of engineers, you’d better believe that Apple cutting its losses doesn’t mean that everything Titan-related is packed up into a white cardboard box and thrown into Apple Park’s attic.

We already known that many of the people who worked on Project Titan will be reassigned elsewhere. But it’s more than just the personnel who worked on the Apple Car; it’s the technology developed for Apple’s automotive project that will surely work its way into other places across the company’s product lines. After all, one of Apple’s great strengths as a company that controls both its hardware and software is the ability for features and capabilities to be shared across its various devices where appropriate.

Artificial intelligence gathering

While Apple’s approach to its car may have shifted many times over the course of a decade, one element of it remained largely consistent: some degree of autonomy. Despite frequent if somewhat vague claims that Apple has fallen behind in artificial intelligence, the company’s use of machine learning throughout its product lines has been both widespread and deep over the years, so it’s obvious that AI would work its way into the automotive project.

Autonomous car systems rely heavily on AI, for obvious reasons: since you can’t predict every single event that you might encounter on the road, you need to develop systems that can learn how to deal with the unexpected, based on tons of previous data. (Even then, there remain circumstances that are utterly unpredictable–one challenge that has ended up stymieing full autonomous driving for the moment.)

The same underlying principles are true with other AI systems. If Siri needs to learn how to have a conversation, or Photos needs to figure out how you can remove an unwanted person from the backdrop, those tasks are all accomplished via training on existing data. While it may not be a direct technology transfer from one to the other, the skills are largely the same. And given that Apple has already tacitly committed to a big AI push in its upcoming platform updates, the indication that it’s shifting personnel from Project Titan to working on adjacent technology makes a lot of sense.

Putting on a CarPlay

While Apple may not be building its own car, it’s not done with the automobile as a platform. CarPlay remains not only a going concern but one that’s in the midst of an active big push, as partner companies are poised to start announcing cars that support the next generation of Apple’s automotive technology interface. These cars will not only rely on CarPlay for in-car navigation and entertainment but for the entire user interface and experience.

While it seems as though Project Titan and CarPlay weren’t necessarily closely connected as projects, it’s hard to imagine there wasn’t some of the latter’s DNA involved in the former. And it seems likely that some of the technology that didn’t find its way into an Apple car could instead migrate to CarPlay–perhaps even simply in terms of lessons learned from trying to design a full car interface.

IT seems like CarPlay can directly benefit from the work done with Project Titan.


The real question is whether any of the autonomous driving functionality that Apple worked on might end up in another car. While even the far-reaching nature of next-generation CarPlay probably won’t be integrated enough in a third-party automobile to deploy these features, it’s possible that one of the partnerships Apple is building could expand to take advantage of some of this technology. That may prove an attractive proposition for a car company that hasn’t yet developed its own autonomous driving features.

Unobstructed vision

Now that the Apple car is no longer on the horizon, Apple’s recently released Vision Pro is once again the most cutting-edge piece of hardware in the company’s portfolio. Given that, it seems plausible that some of the resources previously devoted to Project Titan might find themselves redirected towards Vision Pro.

This is another place where the underlying technologies in the two projects might have some synergy. For example, many car companies have been increasing the use of heads-up display technologies for driving, and it’s not a stretch to think Apple might have been investigating it for its own vehicle as well. Such functionality, in particular the overlaying of augmented interfaces in the real world, would seem to be of strong interest to the Vision Pro.

Likewise, the development of Apple car systems necessitated the use of a real-time operating system for processing information with as little latency as possible. For something like the Vision Pro, which is trying to replicate reality as a pass-through with a minimum of disconnect, that experience could be invaluable.

So while the Apple car may be gone, it’s not forgotten: chances are we’ll see vestiges of its influence popping up through the company’s products for years to come. Even in its demise, it still moves us forward—that’s the technological circle of life for you.

Source : Macworld