Skip to Content

Are the Wheels Coming Off Apple’s Driverless-Car Plans?

August 23, 2017

Thinks aren't going so smoothly in Apple's autonomous-vehicle team. In June, Tim Cook finally admitted that Apple was working on autonomous vehicles—something that had long been rumored. But the New York Times reports that an uncharacteristic lack of focus at the firm—including scraps over partial autonomy, premature redesigns of car interiors, and even spherical-wheel research—have distracted it from, well, getting a car to drive itself.

It's not the first time we've heard of wobbles emanating from Apple's self-driving-car team. Late last year, reports suggested that its automotive division had been scaled right back and given a firm deadline of the end of 2017 by which to make its ambitions of building robotic cars a viable option. To that end, it appears Apple has now decided to approach its goals with a little more focus. The Times reports that Apple is setting about testing driverless shuttles for staff that will run between Palo Alto and its new Infinite Loop HQ.

At this point, of course, it seems that Apple is rather late to this self-driving party. But as we've explained in the past, that won’t necessarily rule out success.

Keep Reading

Most Popular

Here’s how a Twitter engineer says it will break in the coming weeks

One insider says the company’s current staffing isn’t able to sustain the platform.

Technology that lets us “speak” to our dead relatives has arrived. Are we ready?

Digital clones of the people we love could forever change how we grieve.

How to befriend a crow

I watched a bunch of crows on TikTok and now I'm trying to connect with some local birds.

Starlink signals can be reverse-engineered to work like GPS—whether SpaceX likes it or not

Elon said no thanks to using his mega-constellation for navigation. Researchers went ahead anyway.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.