Fri, May 25, 2018 - Page 10 News List

Apple tests self-driving vans internally

Bloomberg

Apple Inc and Volkswagen AG (VW) late last year struck a deal that let the technology giant equip VW vans with self-driving technology to transport Apple employees between offices, a person familiar with the matter said.

The agreement is part of an internal Apple program called Project Titan that started in 2015 as an ambitious effort to build an electric vehicle.

After facing development and management problems, Apple shifted its focus to autonomous technologies that control vehicles, Bloomberg News reported in 2016.

The New York Times reported on the deal with Volkswagen earlier on Wednesday. Representatives for Apple and Volkswagen declined to comment.

Apple tests dozens of Lexus SUVs on public roads in California with its self-driving technology, but has also applied the technology to a shuttle service it is developing to transport staff between office buildings at its Cupertino, California, headquarters.

Apple is using fewer than two dozen of VW’s T6 Transporter vans, which are being customized by the technology giant, the person said.

Apple originally had hundreds of hardware and software engineers, designers and car battery experts on staff to build a car to take on Tesla Inc and Detroit, but has since slimmed the Titan teams down to people working on self-driving camera sensors and underlying software.

QUALCOMM

Separately, Qualcomm Inc is to unveil a dedicated chipset to power standalone virtual-reality and augmented-reality headsets as it seeks to break into new businesses beyond smartphones, people familiar with the matter said.

The announcement could happen as early as next week at the Augmented World Expo in Santa Clara, California, said the people, who refused to be named.

The chip, to be called Snapdragon XR1, would be a system-on-a-chip with a main processing unit, a graphics processor, security functions and components to handle artificial intelligence tasks.

The chip will also tackle voice control and head-tracking interaction with headsets.

The product is designed to make it easier for hardware manufacturers to build headsets that are cheap, powerful and energy-efficient.

Over the past few months, the virtual-reality headset industry has moved toward standalone devices rather than expensive models that must be tethered to high-powered personal computers.

Facebook Inc launched the Oculus Go with a Qualcomm smartphone chip, while Google has also partnered on standalone headsets that use a Qualcomm phone processor.

The largest maker of mobile-phone chips is seeking new sources of revenue as growth in smartphones dries up and competition intensifies.

The San Diego-based chipmaker is to team up with a number of existing headset makers that plan to include the chip, including HTC Corp (宏達電) for its Vive headset and Vuzix Corp, which makes augmented-reality headsets, the people said.

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