Apple Titan Car Project Fail Helped by Overly Ambitious Goals: Spherical Wheels

Apple Car rendering 3 photos
Photo: Franco Grassi
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For quite a few years, Apple's Titan project was a complete mystery, with people presuming all kinds of weird stuff was going on in the tech company's skunkworks warehouses spread around the world.
As it turns out, we probably weren't bold enough in our imagination if recent reveals are to be believed. The New York Times says that the iPhone creator wasn't just happy with creating its own electric autonomous vehicle, but wanted to go much further than that.

This year brought an abrupt end to Apple's ambitions as its project scaled down from the development of an actual car to becoming a simple competitor in the race for self-driving technology. If you can put "Apple" and "simple" in the same sentence, that is.

But before Earth managed to reach the Apple management and bring them back with their feet on solid ground, the company was investigating some very out-there leads. We'll start easy with a cabin deprived of a steering wheel or pedal set, then move our way up to virtual or augmented reality for interior displays (possibly even the entire windshield).

But the craziest thing explored has to be the spherical wheel. Not a novel idea in itself, this reinvention of the wheel has been put on a very high shelf by several companies already as it's proven a technological nightmare. And the only real advantage it offers is lateral maneuvering, making parking and getting out of tight spots a breeze.

It was actually the amplitude of the project and the lack of a cohesive vision of what the team should be pursuing that ultimately forced Apple to rethink the Titan project and go a slightly different way about it by focusing on the technology rather on making an actual vehicle as well.

Whether this, as well as new management for the project in the person of Bob Mansfield, will be enough to turn Apple into a serious contender in the race for autonomous technology remains to be seen. But the company does have a few things going for it, not least being a strong financial position and a reputation for innovation to attract talent.
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About the author: Vlad Mitrache
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"Boy meets car, boy loves car, boy gets journalism degree and starts job writing and editing at a car magazine" - 5/5. (Vlad Mitrache if he was a movie)
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