Apple has all but abandoned plans to build its own self-driving car, a new report from the New York Times suggests.
The world’s most valuable technology company is not exiting the space altogether, however. Apple intends to focus on autonomous driving technology specifically, developing software that would power an automaker’s fleet.
Instead of building its own ride—which derailed due to infighting over Apple’s vision for the project, according to sources cited in the Times—the company will now work at a reduced scale. This new, less-ambitious initiative is called PAIL. Short for Palo Alto to Infinite Loop, the project aims to create a self-driving shuttle to transport employees from Silicon Valley’s main strip to Apple’s sprawling campus.
The in-house shuttle service would offer Apple an opportunity to test its technology in a controlled, real-world environment.
PAIL replaces Project Titan, which began in 2014. Titan reflected Apple’s desire to control all aspects of a product, from software to hardware to design. But turns out the process proved too much even for the empire that is Apple. PAIL appears to be a more realistic stepping stone.
The New York Time’s Daisuke Wakabayashi detailed Apple’s initial project:
From the beginning, the employees dedicated to Project Titan looked at a wide range of details. They … studied ways to redesign a car interior without a steering wheel or gas pedals, and they worked on adding virtual or augmented reality into interior displays. A team within Titan investigated the possibility of using spherical wheels—round like a globe—instead of the traditional, round ones, because spherical wheels could allow the car better lateral movement.
A lack of vision, combined with an overwhelming breadth of challenges, continually stalled Titan. Sources say PAIL—a clear-cut, straightforward project—is progressing at a considerably faster rate.