Thursday, May 24, 2018

Shuttle Buses

Building cars is actually very hard and the idea that Apple was going to build its own car (self-driving or not) was always a bit... let's say, ambitious... but the degree to which their ambitions have faltered reflect not just this but their failure to pay me $10 million dollars to tell them "this is stupid, don't do this."

Instead, Apple has signed a deal with Volkswagen to turn some of the carmaker’s new T6 Transporter vans into Apple’s self-driving shuttles for employees — a project that is behind schedule and consuming nearly all of the Apple car team’s attention, said three people familiar with the project.

I'm sure one day we will all upload our brains into robot bodies, but until around that time "self-driving cars" will mostly be segways. Neato, some interesting niche applications, but even where they "work" they'll not live up to the promise of their boosters. Even self-driving technology long haul trucking, which I can see "working" to some degree (specific routes, dedicated transhipment center to transhipment center), probably won't actually get rid of the drivers.

The article documents the long decline of Apple's ambitions, which because Apple everyone thought would revolutionize the world. I know I'm a bit of an Apple cynic, but aside from that they do have a history of failures which people forget about. Not that there's anything wrong with that, aside from a generally uncritical tech press about everything they do.

From 2015:

Apple is building a self-driving car in Silicon Valley, and is scouting for secure locations in the San Francisco Bay area to test it, the Guardian has learned. Documents show the oft-rumoured Apple car project appears to be further along than many suspected.

(ht reader jo)