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by Jason Snell & Dan Moren

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Linked by Dan Moren

Apple signs deal with VW for self-driving vans on campus

Jack Nicas, reporting for The New York Times:

Instead, Apple has signed a deal with Volkswagen to turn some of the carmaker’s new T6 Transporter vans into Apple’s self-driving shuttles for employees — a project that is behind schedule and consuming nearly all of the Apple car team’s attention, said three people familiar with the project.

Apple’s work on self-driving cars has been a matter of much speculation in and out of the tech community for the last several years. It’s been hard to imagine Apple going full-fledged into the car business, in the same way that there was a lot of skepticism that the company might build a TV set.

At the same time, though, given all the work clearly being done on self-driving technology, the fact that it might ultimately end up only in shuttles on Apple’s own campuses seems, if true, anti-climactic.

The Times article lists several other deals that Apple attempted to make but which never came to fruition, including partnerships with BMW and Mercedes-Benz, and seems to suggest that the project has greatly diminished in scope since its inception.

Granted, these Volkswagen vans may simply prove more of a regrouping effort than a surrender. But at this point it still seems as though any consumer product is probably many years away, if it indeed ever materializes at all.