It seems Apple is looking to expand its reach beyond the smart phone, computer and tablet markets, and may be in the early stages of developing an electric, self-driving car, according to a Reuters article.
The company is talking to experts at carmakers and automotive suppliers, according to a senior auto industry source quoted in the article, and is “exploring how to make an entire vehicle, not just designing automotive software or individual components.”
The Wall Street Journal reported that the Cupertino, California based technology company has set up a secret lab to work on creating an Apple-branded electric car. The project, known as “Titan,” employs several hundred people, according to the article. That initial report grew into speculation that Apple is not only planning to create an electric car, but an electric car that doesn’t need a driver to operate it.
The unnamed source quoted in the Reuters article said Apple is collecting advice on parts and production methods, and is focusing research efforts on electronic and connected-car technologies—while also studying the potential for autonomy.
“Fully automated driving is an evolution. Carmakers will slowly build the market for autonomous cars by first releasing connected and partially automated cars,” the auto industry source said, according to the Reuters article. “Apple is interested in all the potential ways you can evolve the car; that includes autonomous driving.”
Developing an electric driverless vehicle would represent quite a shift for this technology giant, positioning them to compete with a variety of other Silicon Valley companies exploring the world of autonomous vehicles. These companies include Google, who has built a prototype of a self-driving car.
Apple isn’t commenting on these reports, according to the Reuters article, so we’ll have to wait and see just how involved Apple becomes with this emerging technology.
To add to the speculation, the CBS station in San Francisco, KPIX5, reported earlier this month that a mysterious minivan equipped with cameras spotted driving in the Bay area could be a driverless car prototype. The van is leased to Apple, but again a spokesperson for the technology company refused to comment on the company’s involvement with driverless technology.