Apple Inc. and Volkswagen AG struck a deal late last year that let the technology giant equip VW vans with self-driving technology to transport Apple employees between offices, according to a person familiar with the matter.
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’s developing to transport staff between office buildings at its Cupertino, Calif., 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. The company has also lost some executives who worked on the project.
— With assistance by Gabrielle Coppola