Apple's interest in self-driving vehicles is one that is well established. Some months ago, people were touting that the autonomous car sector would be one of the most promising ones in Apple's repertoire. However, since then, the company has scaled back its ambitious self-driving projects quite a bit. Whereas, one time the Cupertino-based company was trying to develop its own self-driving vehicle, Apple has now left all those notions behind and is more focused on developing the underlying technology that would drive the growth of the autonomous cars.

Self-driving ferry vehicles

From launching a commercial autonomous vehicle, the company has now jumped straight to a self-driving shuttle which Apple will use to ferry employees between its offices at Silicon Valley.

This is the next step in the evolution of Apple's self-driving technology, according to sources familiar with the project.

According to the recent reports, the tech company will team up with an automobile manufacturer to create a small bus based on the company's own self-driving technology, to ferry employees from its new campus Apple Park to all its older offices located across Cupertino and Sunnyvale. The ferry service is codenamed PAIL, which stands for Palo Alto to Infinite Loop. Apple did not elaborate on the plans which were first outed by the New York Times.

This new method of testing is similar to the ones that have already been employed by autonomous car tech developers Waymo and Uber. These companies have also started running smaller tests of its product to understand what the weaknesses of these programs are.

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It is easier to use employees for the test rather than using actual members of the public, as that would require proper legal clearance and regulatory changes.

Why Apple had to change its vision of self-driving technology

Apple started working on the autonomous vehicles in 2014 and the project was named Titan. Apple wanted to create a brand-new vehicle which would let users completely depend on the autonomy of the vehicle and nothing else. The tech company even brought in car designers and engineers, so that it could design and produce a new vehicle from scratch. Apple usually likes controlling every aspect of development so, the company looked to create the technology as well as the vehicle itself.

However, there were too many ideas and concepts without sufficient progress. This is when Apple brought in Bob Mansfield to rein in the project from going out of control. Mansfield declared that Apple should focus on the underlying technology involving autonomous cars and not try to develop the vehicles themselves. Thus, the plans for the entire project altered completely.