Monday Note

The above leaves us with two possible conclusions:

First, there’s nothing there, no Apple Car, no hardware, no software. The self-driving car project called “Titan”, started in 2014, was disbanded earlier this year. An early rumor that Magna Steyr, a German manufacturing contractor, would build the Apple Car is long dead. Clearly, Apple execs have decided against getting into the electric car business. Improving Maps, sure, but no EV.

Alternatively, there must be something. Apple has spent a nontrivial amount of money hiring and firing automotive teams and renting huge facilities — a research lab in Sunnyvale, a test track in Arizona. The company has filed a number of (possibly) car-related patents, including one for an “Autonomous Navigation System”. What is Apple doing if they’re not creating a self-driving car?

Research, that’s what. Apple conducts hardware and software experiments to keep abreast of industry activity. From these experiments they sometimes file defensive patents. This is better than relying on published or leaked reports from other companies. The company could even run an experimental autonomous shuttle inside its gated campus as part of its research. Rumor sites would extrapolate, but small scale experiments don’t make a product.