Report: Apple Aims for Autonomous Driving Control System by Late 2017

October 17, 2016 at 10:15 AM

Apple Inc. reportedly has deployed dozens of software engineers in an office outside Canada’s capital in Ottawa, Ontario, to develop an operating system for self-driving cars.

Many of those staffers have been hired within the past year from Canadian vehicle software developer QNX Software Systems Ltd., a unit of BlackBerry Ltd. Sources tell Bloomberg News the team is housed in an Apple office near QNX’s office in the Ottawa suburb of Kanata.

Apple’s vehicle OS development work is headed by QNX founder Dan Dodge, who quit as the Canadian company’s CEO to join Apple in July. Bloomberg says Apple has courted QNX employees because of their expertise in the basic software required to manage electric powertrain operations.

Developing a core operating system is part of Apple’s secretive Project Titan that originally aimed to develop a self-driving electric car. Reports say the project’s focus has shifted to the more immediate goal of developing a software platform for autonomous vehicles. Apple expects to decide by the end of next year whether the system it develops is viable, according to Bloomberg’s sources.

A separate team of Apple software engineers is creating applications such as voice-activated navigation that would run on the Apple operating system, the sources add. They say yet another team is developing simulators to test self-driving software without requiring physical cars operating on public roads.