The Apple Car has a target shipment date of 2019, Dow Jones reported Monday, as plans for the electric vehicle kick into high gear internally. The project is said to involve 600 employees already, but project bosses have gotten the go-ahead to triple that number.
The news follows reports that Apple met with officials from California's DMV to discuss autonomous-vehicle regulations. "Project Titan," as it is rumored to be known, is top secret, but documents seen by the Guardian say that Apple met with three main officials who have pushed for the state to lead the way in self-driving cars. Apple is also said to be looking into conducting tests at GoMentum Station in California, a former military base outside San Francisco that spans 2,100 acres. The facility is also used by other manufacturers testing self-driving cars, including Google, Volkswagen, Mercedes-Benz and Tesla.
Although Apple is said to be increasing its car efforts, a previous report suggests this might not be well-received by all. In June, a published report said managers have been infuriated by Apple stealing talent from other projects to work on the car. The project is said to be taking large amounts of resources from other departments. However, Apple is also hiring externally, with LinkedIn listings seen by Business Insider showing new hires coming from Tesla.
This isn't Apple's first effort in the car industry. CarPlay, released this year, brings an Apple interface to supported touchscreen in-car dashboards. iPhones can link up with supported dashboards and provide access to the phone's messages, contacts, location data, and even third-party apps that support CarPlay.
But why would Apple, a tech company, want to enter car territory? If reports are to be believed that a self-driving car is what Apple has in store, it would be a good way for the company to leverage its mapping talent to bring location data over to the car. Coupled with nearby suggestions from Proactive Siri seen in iOS 9, the car could recommend a restaurant and drive you there, using data on nearby gas stations to make stops if the car needs to refuel.
The car also makes sense as the center of a new ecosystem of apps. Games could take advantage of a built-in screen to provide entertainment for passengers, while social media apps could use car data to make posts that say where the car is heading to, rather than where the car is located at the time of posting.