VW, Apple Partner for Driverless Vehicle Initiative

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May 24, 2018—Apple has signed a deal with Volkswagen to turn some of the carmaker’s new T6 Transporter vans into the technology company’s self-driving shuttles for employees, according to a New York Times report.

Apple originally began its car project in 2014, as the technology company aimed to, in essence, produce an electric, driverless vehicle that might become as popular and impactful on society as the iPhone, the New York Times noted. But that project hit several roadblocks. And, in recent years, Apple had sought partnerships with luxury OEMs BMW and Mercedes-Benz to develop an all-electric, self-driving vehicle, but those negotiations eventually stalled.

In early 2017, California regulators authorized Apple to run self-driving tests on public roads with three Lexus SUVs that were retrofitted with sensors. Alas, Apple failed to secure a legitimate partnership with Lexus, either.

All of which led to Apple’s reported pact with Volkswagen. Now, in Turin, Italy, at a lab run by a Volkswagen subsidiary called Italdesign, the companies plan to remake Volkswagen’s T6 vans as electric, self-driving vehicles, according to multiple anonymous sources. Apple will replace many components, like the dashboard and seats, and will add other computers and sensors. The vehicles would likely ferry Apple employees at the company’s Silicon Valley campuses.

It is unclear whether Apple’s pact with Volkswagen will last beyond the shuttle project. Apple declined to comment on the reported partnership with Volkswagen.

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