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Apple’s first car effort might not be self-driving after all

Apple has talked a big game about its future plans to break into the automotive market. But a report from Bloomberg says that Apple has had to scale back its plans. Last year, reports indicated that Apple would debut a fully self-driving car in 2025, but now, the vehicle is delayed until 2026 and will not be autonomous.

Apple sought to build the first completely autonomous vehicle, without the need for a steering wheel or pedals. But according to the report, engineers working on the project (known internally as Titan) no longer think that vision is possible with current technology.

Apple has experienced a number of executive shakeups on the Titan team, which could have influenced this delay. Last year, Ford Motor snagged Doug Field, the engineering executive who was in charge of this special projects team at Apple. A few months before that, several other key players on the Titan project departed the company.

Even companies with a long history in the automotive space have struggled to make the dream of autonomous driving a reality. Of course, Tesla has also strived toward this feat with its misleadingly named "full self-driving" feature, which launched in beta in October 2020 and is now the subject of a Department of Justice criminal investigation. Launched last year, the inquiry was initiated following over a dozen accidents involving the active use of Tesla’s Autopilot system, some resulting in fatalities.

Meanwhile, TechCrunch reported in October that Argo AI, the autonomous vehicle unicorn with backing from Ford and Volkswagen, would be shutting down. Ford later said in its earnings report that it would focus more on advanced driver-assistance systems than self-driving technology.