Apple Has Dozens of Engineers Working on Car Operating System in Canada

Apple-car-silhouetteAt an Apple research and development facility in Kanata, Canada, Apple has two dozen former BlackBerry QNX employees helping develop a car operating system, reports Bloomberg.

The operating system is described as the "software core" of a future car platform, similar to iOS or macOS Sierra. It would be the base used to power other software, such as a self-driving car program that's being developed by a separate Apple team or a rumored heads-up display feature.

The autonomous software was only one of many features once planned to run on the car operating system. For example, Apple engineers envisioned a heads-up display showing apps such as maps that could be manipulated by the company's voice-based digital assistant Siri, according to a person familiar with the matter.

The BlackBerry employees, who work with dozens of other software engineers at the Canadian location, formerly developed the BlackBerry QNX platform, which powers many in-car infotainment systems. Among those employees is Dan Dodge, who ran BlackBerry's automotive software division and developed QNX before he joined Apple in July. Dodge is said to have a key role overseeing the development of the software project.

While the Canadian team is developing Apple's in-car software platform, several other "Project Titan" teams are working on other features. A self-driving platform simulation group, which includes VR expert Doug Bowman, has created simulators that use virtual reality to test Apple's self-driving software, for example.

Over the course of the last few months, Apple's car project has shifted focus from building a vehicle to developing a self-driving car system. Apple is said to have shelved its car plans "for now," and is instead working on a software platform that could allow it to partner with existing carmakers or return to developing its own car in the future.

Hundreds of employees on the car team have been reassigned, laid off, or have left the company since August, just a few months after longtime Apple executive Bob Mansfield took over the project. Apple has continued hiring for new software-related positions, however, and executives have given the automotive team until late 2017 to "prove the feasibility" of a self-driving car platform.

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Top Rated Comments

Rogifan Avatar
99 months ago
For who? Automakers don't need Apple to build this for them. If Apple isn't building this for their own hardware it's DOA IMO.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Floris Avatar
99 months ago
Sorry fanboys and dreamers. The Apple Car is DEAD. There is no way any car company wants to pay a royalty to Apple.

The only way an Apple car will appear is if Apple purchases an existing manufacturer.
Kinda how the smartphone market was dead in 2006 and apple was too late to the feature phone market?
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
kdarling Avatar
99 months ago
For who? Automakers don't need Apple to build this for them. If Apple isn't building this for their own hardware it's DOA IMO.
Yep, at least if the target is to make an actual car OS, not just an entertainment center OS. Apple has zero rep as a hard real time OS source, and you need 100% reliability if you want to design autonomous driving code. Not to mention long term support and legal liability.

However, if it's just entertainment and/or visuals, then those ex-BB QNX guys could no doubt give Microsoft's Sync a real run for its money.

No matter what, I just hope there's a lot less emphasis on touchscreen controls. Vehicles need physical buttons and knobs that you can use without having to look.
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
JeffyTheQuik Avatar
99 months ago
I loved working in QNX. Used it on semiconductor manufacturing equipment, where timing of gas flows was everything.
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
SBlue1 Avatar
99 months ago
With the inherent safety of a self driving car, regulators will be relaxing the safety standards.
No more bumpers or seat-belts or safety glass, speed limits. Designers will have limitless freedom.
As long as there is one car left on the road that is human driven and can crash into you your car will need bumpers and seat belts too. So yeah your dream will just stay a dream.

You remind me of the magazines from the fifties where people thought we will have nuclear powered planes and flying cars by the seventies! LOL
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)
pike908 Avatar
99 months ago
Sorry fanboys and dreamers. The Apple Car is DEAD. There is no way any car company wants to pay a royalty to Apple.

The only way an Apple car will appear is if Apple purchases an existing manufacturer.
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)