Report: Apple’s electric car to hit the road in 2019 but it won’t be driverless

22 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

5 Things to Read Today: Pope Francis’s Visit to the Americas, Apple’s Electric Car, and More.

The Wall Street Journal (paywall) is reporting that Apple has internally labeled their electric car effort a “committed project” and is looking at shipping the first fleet of vehicles in 2019.

Pope Francis’s historic visit to the U.S. comes at a time when changes in demographics and religious attitudes are challenging the fabric of the church.The company has spent more than a year investigating the feasibility of an Apple-branded car, including meetings with two groups of government officials in California, the Journal says, quoting un-named sources familiar with the matter (and it’s worth taking seriously. The pontiff’s six days in the U.S. could prove a decisive moment for a papacy that is splitting the faithful on a range of issues, from divorce to global warming.

The news comes after Apple chief executive Tim Cook told employees that the company was making a “substantial donation” to help European refugees. For Apple, a “ship date” doesn’t necessarily mean the date that customers receive a new product; it can also mean the date that engineers sign off on the product’s main features, the WSJ said. Sources told Reuters in August that Apple was developing a car and studying self-driving technology, but it was unclear if the iPhone maker was designing a vehicle that could drive itself. Apple has hired this year Megan McClain, a former Volkswagen AG engineer with expertise in automated driving, and Vinay Palakkode, a graduate researcher at Carnegie Mellon University, a hub of automated driving research. Although Apple has recently hired a team of experts to work on driverless technology, met with the DMV to review autonomous vehicle regulations and scoped out testing facilities, the WSJ report claims that Apple’s first electric car won’t be fully autonomous by 2019.

On a related note, two years ago Apple announced CarPlay, a system that lets your iPhone directly connect to a car’s dashboard display — for better integration of features like mapping, music, streaming radio and hands-free calling. Last week, talk show host Stephen Colbert asked Cook about Apple building a driverless car. ”We look at a number of things along the way, and we decide to really put our energies into a few of those,” Cook replied. CarPlay can be controlled via a simplified, big icon version of iOS that appears on your dashboard, or Siri voice commands (which US previews say work well).

Almost every big car maker, including Ford, GM, Toyota, Mitsubishi, Audi and BMW has committed to supporting CarPlay … though I would give a penny for their thoughts now Apple is apparently entering the car-making business.

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