Apple May Partner With Bosch On Autonomous Electric Drive System

While Apple continues to be secret about its interest in an autonomous electric car, there could be a real sign the company is still working on it with a veteran automotive supplier.

Looking through the tech giant’s published directory of suppliers from February, Automotive News found Robert Bosch listed. Apple identified the company headquarters office in Reutlingen, Germany, which is where the supplier’s automotive electronics division is located.

Bosch does manufacture other parts in that office, such as sensors for consumer electronics devices. Many of its products coming out of the Reutlingen facility are automotive used in braking, steering, and other vehicle systems.

Apple declined to comment, and Bosch hadn’t responded to a request for comment at the time of publication.

Bosch does play a role in autonomous and electric vehicle technologies. In mid-March, the German parts supplier forged a relationship with Nividia to sell its Drive PX 2 driver-assist platform to automakers. That gives Nvidia a direct marketing strategy with major automakers for its self-driving hardware and software platform.

Bosch has also found its place in the supplier network for lithium-ion batteries used in electric cars.

Robert Bosch’s role as a major global automotive supplier has also been reinforced through being pulled into investigations and lawsuits over Volkswagen’s diesel emissions cheating scandal. The supplier has been blamed for helping VW design the “defeat device” software that allowed the automaker to cheat on emissions testing.

In October, Bloomberg Technology reported that people familiar with the matter said that Apple’s “Project Titan” went through a wave of reorganization. The team that had numbered about 1,000 employees had dwindled down through reassignments, layoffs, and voluntary terminations.

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The project hadn’t been eradicated, but had been cut down. The focus would be shifting away from designing and possibly manufacturing self-driving, electric cars to developing an autonomous drive system that could be sold or licensed to other automakers.

Apple continued playing an active role in autonomous vehicles in December, releasing a public comment on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s autonomous vehicle guidelines published last fall.

“The company is investing heavily in the study of machine learning and automation, and is excited about the potential of automated systems in many areas, including transportation,” the comment said.

That had been authored by Steve Kenner, who had left Ford Motor Co.’s safety division two years earlier to head Apple’s product integrity unit. That sparked more speculation over the Silicon Valley company keeping its strategic plan alive to play some role in autonomous vehicles.

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