14 September 2016

The New York Times: “Apple is said to be rethinking Strategy on Self-Driving Cars”

Apple started looking seriously into building an electric car about two years ago. It expanded the project quickly, poaching experts in battery technology and so-called machine vision, as well as veterans from the automobile industry.

The team also pulled in staff members from other divisions across Apple, growing to more than 1,000 employees in about 18 months. But as the project grew rapidly, it encountered a number of problems, and people working on it struggled to explain what Apple could bring to a self-driving car that other companies could not, according to the people briefed on the project.

Daisuke Wakabayashi & Brian X. Chen

Without another breakthrough product and falling behind on its distinctive feature, industrial design, what will Apple have to show for itself in five to ten years? But I guess that’s what happens when you prioritize profits and tax avoidance schemes over innovation.

On a related note, Google seems to have hit road-blocks with its autonomous cars project as well. It’s probably time for another generation of tech companies to rise up and solve the big problems of the next decade, just as Apple, Google and Facebook surpassed Microsoft before. Google and Apple have both become too big and bureaucratic, too entrenched in their respective business models, to be able to generate the fast, hard innovation required for the next revolution.

Possibly the biggest drag on the program is the sheer scope of Google’s ambitions. Its aim is to revolutionize transportation through full autonomy. The software must be trained thoroughly to handle all eventualities. Meanwhile, there are already methods to make self-driving cars good, rather than perfect. That has helped companies including Uber, Daimler AG’s Mercedes-Benz, Tesla and Volvo Car Group catch up with Google, Juneja said.

Alistair Barr

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