Running out of options, Apple turns to VW for autonomous employee shuttle

As Apple has hit roadblock after roadblock in attempting to jump-start its work in autonomous vehicles, there’s now word that the company has settled on a willing partner to deliver on self-driving employee shuttles.

Now, The New York Times reports that Apple is now working with Volkswagen to outfit self-driving technology on the automaker’s T6 Transporter for use between its California campuses in Palo Alto and Cupertino. But it’s a deal that has not come without difficulties: the tech giant had originally sought luxury brands BMW and Mercedes-Benz to supply to work on its all-electric fleet — part of why this project has been stalled for three years.

Three sources to the Times say that as with Siri, Apple has not put in place a strong directive and consistent leadership on the project. Those who signed on in the beginning initially had plans to build the actual car itself in-house. Contracting with smaller and larger manufacturers has also been difficult because Apple wanted to have more control over the project than most partners would allow and that the company wanted a high-end brand fitting its image — CEO Tim Cook drives a BMW, for example.

Turnover has been quick and, all the while, discourse on autonomous cars has been somewhat chilled since one of Uber’s self-driving cars killed a pedestrian in Arizona — the ride-hailing company has shuttered its research operations in that state, laying off 300 people.

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Jules Wang
Jules Wang is News Editor for Pocketnow and one of the hosts of the Pocketnow Weekly Podcast. He came onto the team in 2014 as an intern editing and producing videos and the podcast while he was studying journalism at Emerson College. He graduated the year after and entered into his current position at Pocketnow, full-time.