The team also worked on a new light and ranging detection sensor, also known as lidar. Lidar sensors normally protrude from the top of a car like a spinning cone and are essential in driverless cars. Apple, as always focused on clean designs, wanted to do away with the awkward cone.
Apple even looked into reinventing the wheel. A team within Titan investigated the possibility of using spherical wheels — round like a globe — instead of the traditional, round ones, because spherical wheels could allow the car better lateral movement.”
Very interesting, and one heck of a leak if true.
The challenge of a self driving car is to get it to drive by itself, not to try to make it look good and to solve a whole pile of engineering problems that have had everybody in engineering looking at them since as long as we have the profession.
Making gadgets and making a self driving car require a different mind-set. The first is an exercise in consumer packaging, the second is a serious endeavor in engineering something tremendously difficult from the ground up.
What the vehicle looks like is not important at this stage, what is important is whether it can be done at all with sufficient reliability to let it out of the lab and into the mass market.
When someone seriously suggests to 'reinvent the wheel' it is time to re-focus.
As an example, consider the transition from MacOS 9 -> Mac OS X (public beta days). The tough challenge was what's below the hood, the new UNIX foundation, the NeXTStep APIs, being able to mitigate the conversion pain, etc. Yet in the midst of all these challenges, they added Aqua: an ambitious, over-the-top UI. Was it overkill? Yes. Did it get scaled back? Yes. Did it impact performance? Heck yeah it did. But it did one thing very well: it got people to dream of a (literally) shiny new Operating System. In the moments when Mail.app would get stuck or when one felt the absence of many Classic features, seeing the shiny OS helped sugar-coat the transition and from a UX perspective, it helped people stick with it until the bugs got ironed out.
Five random Titan engineers wouldn’t just start talking to the Times. Not if they wanted to stay working at Apple. So it makes you wonder if their “leaking” is designed to mislead.
However, in the OSX analogy above, Apple had a very good platform (NeXTSTEP) that had been commercially available and proven in real-world use for ~a decade before they started modifying it to become OSX. There is no similarly mature self-driving car platform for them to be working from, and we can be sure of that.
And it's not like robotics research hasn't been working on this problem for half a century now. It's a hell of a hard problem that one can't just product-design their way out of.
On reinvented wheels, early ideas rejected today may get a second life later, e.g. spherical wheels for moving in very constrained environments.
the iPod was not the first music player, the iPhone not the first smartphone. Re-engineering those was the only way to get them to market in a way that might drive mass adoption.
As for the spherical wheels, yes, however such a development is totally tangential (pun intended) to self driving cars.
I disagree. You seem to be discounting the learning aspect. Building an institutional knowledge base of the pile of systems that make up a car is a large task by itself. Different shops approach it differently. One may obsessively reverse engineer the competition, another might tinker with longtime designs.
I fully expect the managers in question saw the spherical wheels as something with maybe a 2% chance of becoming a reality, if that. The point at that stage is not to take a particular design to market, it is to explore the problem space, develop expertise, and work out what strategy to pursue.
From this article, it sounds like they figured out the strategy.
This is mostly likely not something that could be rolled out even in a concept car with present day technology unless there is some kind of trick that I'm not aware of. Halbach arrays are not without problems if you allow them to be unconstrained in all dimensions.
TaDa: the self driving Tron motorcycle!
It's a lot simpler with independent electric motors per wheel, but generally not that useful as self drivings cars can already parallel park just fine.
But those ideas are tangential (being generous) to self-driving, so better not steal cycles from it.
The iPod had click wheel. The Mac had the GUI. The Apple II was plug-and-play in a time when people built from scratch. The iPhone had multi-touch the Apple Watch had a bunch of stuff.
The challenge is not to solve an already solved problem.
Remember when the iPhone was introduced? It's obvious now it was quite revolutionary-- but at the time people complained that it wasn't anything significant and that lacking a keyboard meant it was doomed to failure.
If apple introduced a self driving Camry it would not really be compelling enough. For a new product category, Apple's only interested if they can create or redefine the category.
It's worked out pretty well so far.
How could you say that without knowing anything about such a car?
Is the brand enough to get you to buy something?
And yes, the brand-- which is to say, their 40 year history of delivering products at a level of quality and innovation unmatched by any company in the world-- is enough to be interested in anything they produce.
Apple doesn’t care about incremental improvements when talking about a new product category. They look to leapfrog. Have you considered the benefit of spherical wheels? I haven’t, but I am not part of that project.
Incrementalism would have been making a better Apple Newton or a prettier Palm Treo. Or a slightly better Tesla. Why bother entering the car market if you’re just going to marginally compete with everyone else?
It seems like you don’t get Apple or their history of product development.
I get it just fine. They are improved user interfaces over things that already existed. Changing the main method of transfer of energy from the motor to the road in a vehicle is a fundamental change that has significant implications for everything else in the vehicle to the point of making it very unlikely that that vehicle will ever be completed.
People would not buy a car with spherical wheels for the 'cool factor' they would not buy it because it is untested technology with significant implications for the safety of the occupants and others on the road.
> Apple doesn’t care about incremental improvements when talking about a new product category.
Well, what is a leapfrog to you looks suspiciously like an incremental improvement to me. There were some phones that had a fair amount of resemblance to the iPhone before it launched and the iPod had a large number of predecessors as well. And without iPod no iPhone.
Arguably the iPhone could have been a success without multitouch, it's perfectly possible not to have multitouch and at the same time not to have stylus and not to have a keyboard.
As for the benefit of spherical wheels, yes, I can see some benefits, but I can also see significant drawbacks that are not easily engineered away.
A car is a device on an entirely different plane than a phone, the only time your life depends on your phone is when you're trying to call 911 after an accident, with a car you (and the people on the road around you) depend on your car from the moment you get into it until you disembark. That requires a more conservative kind of development.
Such as Tesla is showing, and which they occasionally get wrong, usually when they release stuff that isn't quite as reliable as it should be for mass deployment.
This is the lie every Apple hater tells themselves to reconcile their hate with the fact that Apple keeps inventing things never before seen.
I once had someone on here tell me that Apple invented nothing for the iPhone because the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey "invented multitouch".
This is why I believe that comma.ai was so visionary, say whatever you want about George Hotz's personality. He truly _gets it_ that self-driving is the critical part, not the car.
I think commaai has a very bright future.
Comma one has been canceled and the new offering is more along the lines of a kit for DIY car hackers than for serious deployment and at a guess if you would be involved in an accident while deploying one of these kits your insurance would be void.
Goodyear released spherical wheels. It's not that stupid at all to reinvent the wheel, sometimes: https://www.sciencealert.com/watch-goodyear-unveils-the-futu...
Similar to how every software application project could theoretically result in a new database, a new operating system and if you really want to go all out a new CPU it is much more efficient to concentrate on your application if you actually want to see it go to market.
> Goodyear released spherical wheels.
No, they didn't, that's just some fancy CG stuff, not an actual product.
Also, it just so happens that Good Year is in the wheels-and-tires business so for them such research makes good sense, and of course it is a theory of a concept, not an actual proof of concept much less something that they are ready to roll out. It's more like serious science fiction even than actual science, it's how things maybe could work, not how they actually work.
That's only true if the team that reinvents the wheels and the team that does the self-driving tech is the same, and you're stealing members from the latter to the former.
Obviously those are not the same teams, nor they need to be.
And when you get out with your self-driving car, as 3-4 companies will do at more or less the same time or within a few years of each other, having other great new innovations on top of that will give you an edge.
Solving too much is a fantastic way to crash a project.
We don't know that. We just know that we're not familiar with them. If anything, globular wheels could make some kind of automated steering easier.
And of course, it's obviously not like Apple only tried that design: they tried globular wheels, fat wheels, thinner wheels, wooden wheels, and what have you to see what works better -- like they did when they designed the iPhone, etc.
Yes, and 'standard wheels' would have saved them time, money and other resources and would have increased the chances of bringing a self driving car to market.
Time from what? It's not some team considering other kinds of wheels was holding back their self-driving researchers...
You seem to have an overly linear and heavy-first concept of how such a development should go.
Time from focusing on the bit that mattered. Anyway, the article linked underscores my point far better than I'm able to do.
If Apple partnered with an existing car company to apply their design principles on top of an existing car platform (e.g. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fiat_Mini_platform ) they could see a lot of success if they weren't too ambitious. They wouldn't win if they tried to reinvent the wheel because there would be far too big of a chance of either taking 10 years to build nothing or for building something that ended up being overly strange (e.g. Segway)
Build a car that was familiar built out with quality materials and an iOS dash interface and you'd sell like hotcakes.
Wait, we do know what would have happened - the Motorola ROKR, which everyone should be forgiven for forgetting.
When you say that, you conventiently forget that Apple re-invented the smartphone. It was an proven thing, which already sold in spades in the tech/enterprise market.
They took something which existed and was awkward to use, and re-did the UI layer of the whole thing. They refined something else which was already proven. They didn't invent something original from scratch.
Here Apple is clearly trying to design a new kind of a car, where every part is different from what's already out there in the industry. Where none of the new bits has been invented yet.
They are trying to do original discovery in addition to refining things, in an industry where they have absolutely zero experience.
> Project Titan looked at a wide range of details. That included motorized doors that opened and closed silently .... Apple, as always focused on clean designs, wanted to do away with the awkward cone.
That they were even considered things like this important in a self-driving car when they hadn't even solved the self-driving bit (or even car-bit) yet tells me all I need to know about the realism of this project. There was none.
It was doomed from day one.
Apple is not going to produce a gas automobile, but an electric one.
An electric car is a lot closer to a computer in terms of supply chain, than it is to a gas car.
That's what it looks like from the outside, but listening to interviews with current and former Apple people that's not at all how it looked from the inside.
When they initially developed the OSX derived core OS, System architecture and UI libraries they weren't thinking about phones at all. It was intended to be a tablet computer OS. It's only fairly late on in development that Jobs pivoted the team to adapt the technology to a phone form factor and tacked on a phone app and cellular radio. It was not at all developed from the starting point of looking at existing phones and going from there. Things like touch swipe to scroll and pinch to zoom were taken straight from contemporary touch UI research, not Palm or any other existing commercial products.
I remember the last generations of high end feature phones as quite capable media consumption devices, who knows what could have come from that strain of development had they stayed in the limelight a few years longer.
Sure, without the iPhone they'd probably have sold a lot more, but it's not a very compelling counterfactual. Palm started off selling PDAs, but a smartphone is really just a PDA with a cellular radio and a phone app. By the time the iPhone came out standalone PDAs were already dead.
I don't think it would have made a lot of difference to the iPad. It is what it is. It might have had more of a 'wow' factor rather than the 'just a big iPhone' jibes, but even so it sold, and is still selling in very large numbers. Sure sales are down, but they're still selling about 40 million a year. That's more than Dell's annual PC sales and twice as many as Apple's Mac sales, it's also one sixth of global PC sales. So bear that mind when people say it's a declining business. It's slowly declining from spectacular success.
It's pretty common when given an impossible project, and you need to show something.
At Apple don't do basic research and leave it at that.
They are trying to build a commercial product.
In that sense, it makes sense to try to solve the problem of self-driving along with how an Apple car should be like (besides self driving).
So that, if the self-driving research pans out, they have a complete product, not just some run-of-the-mill car design that basically sells for its self driving capability.
And even if their self-driving thing doesn't pan out, they can always enter the car market licensing some other self-driving technology (like they license/buy batteries, ssd, cpus, etc) but with their own spin on the general product.
No it doesn't. Self driving takes decades to solve, designing pretty cars takes a year or two. There is an order of magnitude difference there.
They were seriously trying to constrain the location of the LIDAR before actually knowing what types and numbers of LIDAR a self driving car actually needs! That is utterly backwards.
They are not the same teams doing each, so there's no opportunity cost involved.
And whether it might or might not actually "take decades", if Apple considered it would "take decades to solve" they wouldn't be interested in it in the first place. The idea was that we are close to a breakthrough and commercial applications, not that we'll have something in the market by 2040, maybe.
So, for Apple it was more like "can we get something out in 5-10 years at most? Oh, and if it just self-drives, nobody will care -- by that time there would be 10 more self-driving cars from Google, Tesla, Audi, GM, etc. We also want it to be great/different in other aspects".
>They were seriously trying to constrain the location of the LIDAR before actually knowing what types and numbers of LIDAR a self driving car actually needs! That is utterly backwards.
There's nothing backwards about it -- given that the car will need a LIDAR (which I don't think their self-driving researchers where doubting), they should explorer the design space for placement/hiding it etc.
It's completely backwards. You can kind of do it, but it's a huge waste of time and money.
Apple did not do that because they "knew what they would need, so let's get started", they did that because they had no clue how to make a self driving car, but despite that, the team needed to show something, anything.
Well, you know most things. You know you're making a car, you know it will have LIDAR, you know it will be self driving etc. You are free to (and if you want to win time, you pretty much got to) design the car, the interior, materials, displays, etc -- even the transmission, engine and wheels -- independently of the self-driving algorithms.
If and when those self-driving algorithms are ready, you don't then have to spend another 1 year to design the rest.
There's not any real dependency between them -- so much that you can even test your self driving algorithm in ANY random car as almost all companies do. It's not like being a self-driving car dictates the car form and the latter has to be designed around that property.
(That said, before even Google's car and the self-driving hype, a lot of rumors insisted on Apple merely making an electric iCar -- Tesla competitor, not some full self-driver type 5).
>Apple did not do that because they "knew what they would need, so let's get started", they did that because they had no clue how to make a self driving car, but despite that, the team needed to show something, anything.
I, for one, have no doubt that Apple got some top notch researchers in ML and driving car technology. I also have no doubt they got some top notch car guys (plain car). I also have no doubt that there's nothing to know about "how to make a self driving car" that the Apple team doesn't know (or any team for that matter), apart the ML/self-driving algorithm aspects. So there was nothing about the form of the car holding them back.
So what's the plan? Design a car, then let the designs sit on a shelf for 10 years (or more)? In 10 years tastes will change, and the people who made the designs will no longer have them fresh in their mind - if they are even still employed by Apple.
How does that make any sense?
This is the key difference: people already love their cars, more than they love their home and more than they love their iPhone. The enjoyable smartphone was an unsolved problem, the enjoyable car has been comically over-solved for decades.
Everything unpleasant about cars is happening to the outside. Not just to pedestrians, cyclists and residents, but also to other drivers: just imagine how much nicer your commute would be without all the other commuters. A Lada on an open road would be more enjoyable than a Rolls Royce in a traffic jam. It's a commons problem, one that cannot be designed away with cute UI and expensive surface finishing. Even self-driving won't really solve that, as anyone who has been a passenger in gridlock should know. The only way to significantly improve transport is by making it more space-efficient by cooperation. Public transit with the Apple doover? Could be amazing, but it's just not in the Apple DNA. Autonomous cars with extreme platooning? Massive potential, but just like with public transit, the biggest benefit goes to those who refuse to cooperate and stick to individualistic reaping of the benefits of lower congestion.
I'm part of that (seemingly ever shrinking) demographic that does indeed love cars; I love their shapes and their looks, the roar of an engine (or the thrust of an electric, both hit me in different places), but even I have to admit that people like me are going away. The vast majority of people want a way to get from point A to point B relatively quickly in some measure of comfort; they don't give a shit how cheaply the car is built, as long as it comes with a warranty and the cabin is spill proof, and they don't care how ugly or bland the outside is as long as it keeps the rain out. There's not nearly the same appreciation for cars and driving as their once was, which is why I firmly believe a lot of people these days can't drive very well nor take decent care of their cars; they don't care. Driving is a means to an end, whereas to me, driving is half the fun of doing anything.
> The enjoyable smartphone was an unsolved problem, the enjoyable car has been comically over-solved for decades.
I'd say the enjoyable car and the enjoyable smartphone (iPhone, yes I know, my opinion) have about the same market share these days. :)
I don't mean to say Apple was on to something: I think it was doomed from the start for many of the reasons listed here. I just think you're misreading the market is all. That being said, I do hope the self driving revolution leaves room for enthusiasts who truly love putting the hammer down and seeing what our machines can do; I'm willing to pay more for manual mode or even a much higher fee to continue to have a license to operate; I understand what being put into an enthusiast market means and I'm willing to put up the cash.
For example, see iPhone's voicemail. Or the touch screen. Or the app store. None of those things could have been executed by UI teams at any other device manufacturer at the time.
That doesn't take away from what Apple did. They really took all of the best ideas (and in many cases hired the engineers who made them in the first place) and put them into one incredibly tight and delightful package. Just about every individual feature can be traced to Palm, Symbian, or a host of other systems... but the magic is making the whole thing work.
Still, it's important to remember that the iPhone was largely a logical evolution more than something invented by Apple wholesale. The iPhone was not the first touch screen slate phone that I ever saw FWIW. That honor belongs to an internal project at Nokia (based on Series 60) that died under it's own engineering weight.
Which again is meant as a compliment to Apple. They actually were able to execute on the thing where others failed.
> Palm OS apps were using swipe to scroll for several years before that. As far back as at least 2002.
I don't know how good Palm OS was at that time, but the contrast between the iPhone and the rest of the industry was blinding 2007:
The difference was that you used your physical finger instead of a stylus. Personally speaking, I preferred resistive screens for their responsiveness and accuracy.
The capacitive screen was needed for "pinch to zoom" and other gestures of the modern era. The delay in the UI compared to resistive screens (as well as the higher-CPU time required for processing) turned out to be a smaller deal than multi-touch technology.
Nintendo DS / 3DS and Wii U are all resistive screens. I also have experience with resistive screens of Palm Pilot and Palm phones of the early 2000s. And all of those were more "responsive" than a 2007-era iPhone, despite the iPhone's significantly higher processing power.
Play a serious game like Monster Hunter (very timing intensive) and compare it to a serious timing-intensive game on a capacitive screen (I know I've seen people play Marvel vs Capcom 2 on an iPhone emulator...). The lag and delay is noticeable even in the modern era.
But people wanted multi-touch pinch to zoom. Capacitive sensing also requires a microcontroller to literally "charge up" the screen over and over.
When your finger is on the screen, it "charges up slower" (because your finger changes the capacitance at that location). Innately, that "charge and discharge" cycle requires a measurement over time.
And to make sure that power isn't wasted, only one part of the screen is often tested (there are grids and stuff that then calculate where the fingers or multiple-fingers are located). So innately, there's a delay as the "scan-lines" of the sensors test each point of the screen.
Resistive screens instantly tell you where the stylus is without any such delay or processing. So it just makes sense.
Think how crazy the trackpad goes on a cheap laptop when you plug in a knock-off power supply with poor power conditioning.
I'm not sure what you're talking about with voicemail.
People like to pretend Apple never invents anything and to do so they always point at vaguely similar things that aren't nearly as good as if they support the point.
Someone one here once told me that Apple didn't invent multi-touch because it existed in the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey
Isn't a car a proven thing? All apple is need to do is re-invent it and slap a nice AI on top of it.
it sounds like they we're doing much more with their car efforts
> capacitive touch
I assume you also think a Hyundai looks and acts like a Ferrari.
Because that is what you are saying. I owned that PDA as well as the Treo 650 which was far better and the iPhone isn't an incremental jump. It was a complete revolution.
Compared to a car with freakin' spherical wheels, yes, it does.
He argued against an assumption that apple reinvented smartphone. If you want to use this argument, you have to show that people think that Ferrari reinvented the car.
People were using styluses, the phones were blocky and thick, the UI was confusing and adopted from desktop instead designed for mobile, hardware keyboards, small screens, business focused
I had every "smartphone" and internet tablet back in day running on Palm, Symbian, Blackberry. All of those OS's are completely irrelevant today because of how far Apple pushed the envelope. Though I thought Palm was headed in the right direction with the Pre.
You can call it an evolution but it was such a major leap it was essentially a redefinition.
With self driving cars, it's not about usability/utility, it's still about having the basic tech work.
Though I guess it serves as an example of unchecked carrier power. Something to point to for today’s net neutrality arguments?
100 songs? It was designed to fail.
phones are dead simple compared to cars because phones NHTSA and Insurance issues to face up to
I know a car is a very different beast to a small touchscreen computer that makes phone calls, but at the time everyone was looking at it from the perspective of a computer and entertainment company making a phone in a cut-throat thin-margin industry. What they did is make an iPod Touch with a cellular component, priced it higher than the flag-ship phone of the day and started with a single and not-very-loved service provider in the United States.
Now look where they are.
Apple was overly ambitious.
I'd argue electric cars paired with automation are as near consumer electronics as they are to the automotive industry. Shedding the engine, transmission, steering column, and pretty much all mechanical systems bar the electric motors and braking systems, why couldn't they design it in California and outsource manufacturing to Hon Hai/Foxconn and their partners the way they do with their phones?
... and the shocks and dampers and steering and servos and diffs and transfer boxes and electronic stability systems and dozens of sensors regularly exposed to harsh conditions and lights and crumple zones and doors and windows and air bags and seat belts and seats and air conditioning and ...
Elon Musk said something very true about the myriad of components and OEMs Tesla use - that having 99.9% of the parts on a car available and working, is a lot like having 0% of the parts.
One shipping container holds 60,000 iphones. One shipping container holds one car.
apple has a history of entering fairly high-margin markets where the existing products don't look or feel or function very well, and then they give it the jony ive treatment. but tesla is already there, they applied apple's playbook to cars and honestly took much bigger risks to get there than apple ever would. tesla took on a LOT of debt to be competitive, and it'll be a while before they even have profit, much less good margins. it'd be very hard for apple to compete. if apple ever enters the car market, a tesla acquisition is the only thing that would make sense to me.
It also makes me realize how terrifying it must be for major manufacturers to site capital-intensive factories. Wrong country? Or country that becomes wrong country a decade later? 25% tariff.
#1 It allows you to focus on design as opposed to supply chain management. #2 If the supply chain is centralised where production takes place then that bit of missing trunk carpet, as Elon Musk lamented, won't take two weeks to get to you and hold up the production line - It's down the road.
> One shipping container holds one car.
Which makes me think - the economics change if the vehicle you're shipping is only 1/2 or 1/3 the size of a typical car. When you have an electric automated vehicle why are you sticking with a sedan or truck sized vehicle when you can move individuals or couples?
I have a car that gets 40mpg, and a truck that gets 18mpg. After you account for the extra insurance, license, taxes, and maintenance on my car, I'd be money ahead getting rid of the car and just driving my truck for everything even though times when I need a truck and a car will not do account for maybe 2% of my driving. Note that my car and truck a both paid for, if I'm making payments on both the math is even more lopsided toward not having a car.
People keep pointing out that I can rent a truck when I need on. However this is something is is true in theory, but not practice. It is actually hard to find someplace that will rent you a truck that allows you to use it. Want to take your rental truck off road - not allowed. Want to tow a trailer - most don't allow that. Want to put a sheet of plywood in the back - most don't allow that soft of damage. (though in this case the store probably has the best price and will allow it)
Precisely this. Actually, you don't need to take our word for it. Several manufacturers small and large have tried the "tiny electric car" concept in Europe, a continent much more in love with small cars than the US, starting over a decade ago, and none have actually made it a success. E.g. the Reva (G-Wiz in the UK) was in sale from 2001 to 2013 with a total of 4 600 cars sold worldwide.
Compare that e.g. to the sales volumes of the Renault Zoe (60 000 cars sold since 2012) or the Nissan Leaf (250 000 cars sold since 2011).
Pair automation with a small, likely stylish car and demand from city-dwellers would be enough if Apple released something compelling.
 Google "apple smartphone profit market share"
Let's go backwards with this one: What are most road trips for? Commuting. Would Apple want to make a vehicle for all uses and conditions? Doubtful. Would Apple want to make a truck? Highly doubtful.
They only need to make a vehicle that covers a considerable number of (but not all) use cases. If it can get people to work, to a store, to a friends house, to a restaurant or bar then the number of people who would want one is considerable. It would probably be better suited to those living in cities, but that's still a lot of people who notably require something that doesn't take up much space as parking is at a premium. Better yet, the vehicle could park itself, return home when not needed, pick up the occupant on demand or even car-share the way Elon Musk predicts Tesla owners might lease their vehicles.
Here's a company selling a product allowing you to ship 3-4 cars, or 6 micro cars in one container: http://www.consolidatedcarshipping.com/how-it-works/the-proc...
That's basically what Tesla is doing with their Model 3.
They are building a patent portfolio that will be valuable over the next 20 years. No way will Apple enter a completely new market outside of consumer electronics.
The Apple Knowledge Navigator video comes to mind, it feels very similar to video-vaporware like Microsoft Origami and Microsoft Courier
If you keep the PSI at normal levels the contact patch will be exactly the same size as it is now, and the tire will deform on the bottom. So just design it to be extra flexible.
So no, deflated spherical wheels is not a good idea :/
From that fact, you are saying that "obviously" the deformation of a cylinder (with some diameter/width ratio) filled with gaz at a certain pressure against a flat surface will lead to a higher surface than a sphere with the same pressure?
It's not obvious at all. Give me math+physics proof or GTFO.
A perfect cylinder has a line of contact with the road: the width of the wheel. A perfect sphere has a point of contact.
Obviously you wouldn't see perfect eithers when talking about real-world tire implementations, but the perfect examples here are indicative of cylinders having more surface area with higher air pressure, whereas higher air pressure is the preferred state due to wheel wear and tear and handling issues that occur at low pressures.
Not to mention cylindrical wheels inherently resist lateral motion, have lower unsprung weights/volumes, and don't have the unnecessary engineering struggles of turning a spherical object into a pneumatic device.
I'm all for trying new things and testing wacky designs, but lots of people have looked at spherical wheels over the past few decades (Goodyear's implementation is a personal favorite) and concluded they're pretty much just good looking, rather than an improvement in engineering over current wheels.
Given how good they look though, I'd love for someone to find a way to make them actually work.
And both have an area of zero. And the area is what matters here.
> but the perfect examples here are indicative of cylinders having more surface area with higher air pressure
This is not true. It's physically impossible. (What you have done is the geometrical equivalent of dividing by zero to prove 1 = 2.)
Weight of car / Contact patch / number of wheels = PSI + strength of sidewall.
And the pressure on the ground must exactly equal the pressure in the tire adjusted for the size of the area of ground contact.
Do you see how for any given PSI (including the strength of the sidewall) the contact patch is an exact figure? The forces must all be equal, it's a basic law of physics.
There are certainly engineering issues, I'm not arguing about that. But the size of contact patch is not one of them. Put the same PSI in a cylindrical or spherical tire (neglecting the PSI contribution of the rubber) and the contact patch will have an identical size.
Typically wheels are made of metal wires and are stiff - so they don't like large contact areas because it means lots of flex. But it doesn't have to be that way. You can make a material that doesn't care about flex - if would be harder to make obviously, but it's not an impossible obstacle.
Instead of wasting our time with ridiculous demands maybe just GTFOutside and look at some real tires.
PSI literally means: Pounds per square inch. Pounds of car per square inch of contact patch.
> a spherical tire will have to deform more than an equivalent cylindrical tire
This is true.
> With current materials this means you'll have to run it at a lower inflation pressure
This is not true. Yes, the strength of the rubber plays a part (adding to the effective PSI), but not a large effect unless you are almost flat.
It looks kind of cool, but a bike without spokes is a really bad idea.
Spokes give very high strength to weight ration for wheels. And having cog teeth close to the wheels is guaranteed to get clogged with crap. But it looks kind of "cool" to those who don't know any better.
Somebody liked the Audi RSQ from Minority Report.
Crazy how a re-watch wouldn't be a look at far fetched science fiction.
Porsche (and possibly other companies) are already moving in this direction, with newer models featuring computer-controlled rear wheel steering. At low speeds the rear wheels steer in the opposite direction to the front, and at high speeds in the same direction.
* Nissan stared offering it with several 1986 Skyline trims, and would also offer it on Z32 300ZXs.
* Honda starting offering it on the 1987 Prelude, and also on the Accord starting in 1991.
* The 1988 Mazda 626 sedan (predecessor to the Mazda 6) had it.
* Toyota offered it in Japan on the Camry/Vista for the 1988 model year.
* ... and many, many more. From MPVs to pickup trucks.
The modern resurgence started again with Nissan, with several Infiniti models (the M and Q) offering electric versions from around 2006, and it appeared in the R35 GT-R. Though BMW was technically first with the E65 7-series. Porsche got into the game with the 991 911 GT3 (and optional on all 991.2 911s) because it alone hacked 1.5% off of lap times. The benefit of the newer setups is how wonderfully simple it is in terms of parts, complexity, and reliability (and no more hydraulic leaks!)
Having driven both the R35 and 991.2s, the difference is pronounced. RWS is one of the reasons why the GT-R could manage itself (it is approaching 4000 pounds) as well as it could around the track, and why the latest 911s I've driven on track were so eager to dive-bomb apexes compared to any other 911 I've ever driven.
uhm, looks more like management entered the project without any real goal or metric for success, throwing ideas at walls just for the sake of budgeting.
There were smartphones before the iPhone, and there were mp3 players before the iPod.
If Apple is to reproduce the successes they had they will release a driverless car a few years after the competitors but it will finally be the one that "just works", without the clunky design and the necessary tweaking and weird options.
Another example of apple putting too much emphasize on fluff... who cares about the door mechanism when the company doesn't know how to build the car it bolts to.
Apple probably would never have developed the smartphone first but they did a hell of a good job at getting all the details right with the iPhone once the bigger picture was worked out by other companies - and general technical progress.
I'd imagine the same thing for the future AI interface. I'd want my AI front-end to be developed by Apple but my pedestrian detection algorithm developed by Google, and my car designed by BMW.
The most important thing for talented people (and by proxy organizations) to figure is what they are best at contributing to the world and focusing on that. Instead of trying to do everything.
"Parkinson observed that a committee whose job is to approve plans for a nuclear power plant may spend the majority of its time on relatively unimportant but easy-to-grasp issues, such as what materials to use for the staff bikeshed, while neglecting the design of the power plant itself, which is far more important but also far more difficult to criticize constructively"
For Apple's task of building a automated car, industrial design is an "unimportant but easy-to-grasp" issue since Apple's expertise is design. They should have focused on the harder core problem of a car that can drive itself.
In fact this seems almost like an archetypical example of bikeshedding.
Wow. Few things guarantee success like starting off a project with a good old-fashioned language flamewar!
Of course, if they wrote it in Swift 1 they would have had pains migrating to 2 and 3, but if they wrote it in C++ then they wouldn't be able to refactor any of the code as Xcode doesn't support refactoring C++....
You'll need languages and operating systems that are battle-tested (literally) in hard-real-time fault tolerant systems.
Swift should never have been on the whiteboard for something like that. It's never been used in that scenario.
For example you might use C, but ban malloc, and recursion. There will be static analysis tools that look through your code and calculate exactly how much memory you are using using in the worst case of function call tree, that way they know they cannot run out of memory or stack.
>Apple Inc. has drastically scaled back its automotive ambitions, leading to hundreds of job cuts and a new direction that, for now, no longer includes building its own car, according to people familiar with the project.
>Five people familiar with Apple’s car project, code-named “Titan,” discussed with The New York Times the missteps that led the tech giant to move — at least for now — from creating a self-driving Apple car to creating technology for a car that someone else builds.
And that's because the idea that Apple is going to be an auto parts supplier like Delphi that sells middleware to car companies is completely laughable.
There isn't actually much news in this report. The tidbits that the reporter got clearly motivated writing this article but it doesn't actually live up to its premise. In fact, PAIL seems like an expansion of Apple's efforts from what was previously reported.
Number of employees isn't what determines whether it's deliverable or not. It's likely they're deferring a decision to design the rest of the car until they're certain that they can do autonomous
Echo is a consequence of exploring digital appliances as marketing tools. If you're going to build a device which can voice-interface someone ordering 6 bottles of Tide with extreme ease, doesn't take much more to turn it into a nice music speaker and tell you weather & sports & jokes on request. Echo, Fire, etc are just extensions to feeding the retailing monster.
Do notice how Amazon's innovative foray into cell phones crashed & burned hard - despite being lauded as rather a well-built device. That shows how straying too far doesn't work, and that "far" isn't very.
While the hardware division was indeed shut down, Amazon did manage to salvage as much as they can.
The cloud service didn't take a life on its own - in the very early days there was just EC2 and S3, nothing else. It took a lot of focused investment, commitment and trust from the management to give the AWS experiment more time so that it could succeed and eventually it did.
Fire phone was one of Amazon's many experiments. It failed sure, but hey you miss 100% of the changes you don't take.
Just a minor point of correction: Actually SQS was first.
It's easy to point to one failed product as proof that "straying too far doesn't work", if you can do the mental gymnastics required to classify all their successful products as somehow more connected to their original goal.
"a logistics business, both information and physical"? Really? Calling their massive retail business, original content, and physical devices an "accessory" to their warehousing is an extremely myopic view of Amazon.
Besides, Apple doing the iPod and iPhone is a counter example to your argument, unless you stretch the definition of the core business of a Y2K computer company to be music players and phones.
Cars are more about mechanical engineering than electronics or software. Learning automotive design from scratch when you have no experience and barely any trained staff is not a trivial task.
Worse, a Level 5 autonomous car is not an existing consumer technology. At this point there's nothing to refine, and barely anything that could be bought in to start the refinement process.
Apple might as well go into house building, farming, or food products.
Shipping, motor vehicles, home electronics, bank and finance (UFJ holdings), nuclear power, cameras and optics (Nikon), industrial chemistry, beer brewing (Kirin) and real estate.
Google Cloud is about ensuring that those two have competition and can't somehow pull an EEE. Extreme scenario: vast majority of world's online businesses are hosted on AWS and Amazon for whatever reason creates their own AWS ad service and forbids or undercuts Google AdWords for everything hosted on AWS.
This is the first time I've seen it shortened to an acronym.
EDIT: Samsung does all sorts of things including ship-building, life insurance, construction and advertising.
For example, Apple MacBook Pros have become uncool, expensive, unrepairable and impractical... a giant FU to customers. That business is tettering on failure because they've been hypnotized on elixir of utopian, aspirational design rather than technical, environmental and practical usability. iPhone is the lion's share of
Apple's business, and they're losing ground to Android. That's a problem and most other products have plateaued and aren't anywhere near as dominant-capable or category-defining as the smartphone. That means Apple is a basically a banana republic (pun intended) unless they create or retake a category with a non-incrementalist product.
Disclaimer: I own an A1278 13" from 2013 but refuse to buy a $3000 soldered on RAM and SSD laptop that can't be transfered without proprietary service tools and whose glued-on batteries are a PITA to change. Also the low-travel, flush keyboards are terrible. Looking at Lenovo and System76 machines instead.
They sold over 4 million Macs this past quarter, so I don't know what you're going on about here.
Well, they're down YoY, from 4.2 million to... 4.18 million. So in another 200 years, they'll have all disappeared.
You can't compare a conglomerate to an integrated company.
Citation required. (other than you refusing to buy one).
> Looking at Lenovo and System76 machines instead.
Please don't do System76, their laptops are pieces of crap. My wife and I have had good experiences with thinkpads though.
Manufacturing scale is not something they need until after they have the self driving tech (and also, I'd just partner with a Japanese or German automaker tbh. Toyota under the current CEO has made moves that hint that it would be open to a joint venture).
The main differentiator of current big auto is the engine and drivetrain engineering, which you can circumvent when going electric.
It's unclear what you're buying with a big 3 company that actually helps with the self driving part of the problem, which is currently a much larger problem than manufacturing scale and quality assurance.
- constrictive agreements with dealers
- rapidly deprecating manufacturing assets
- a workforce with sunk costs in last generation skills
- a warranty burden on old vehicles
- pensions and other union agreements
- a beloved brand that the public may not be happy seeing chewed up and regurgitated as iTaxi Supplier 4A
If you believe in an autonomous and electric near future, some of these companies should have Yahoo-style negative valuations.
Often a unionized workforce. You didn't want to use more robots on your assembly lines like Elon Musk, did you? Because these guys are still going to be employed. Period.
However, knowledge in cars definitely helps building the technology, since there are so many little variables that you otherwise would oversee.
Apple and Silicone valley in general is not a trusted partner, in fact they are the opposite: untrusted. Car manufactures have lost millions of dollars on safety lawsuits. The cowboy coding culture silicon valley has a reputation (not always deserved) for doesn't work, they need controlled processes where they can show the courts they made effort to check everything, starting with the design phase.
Car makers expect that they will be sued over a 10 year old car with some parts failing. They need to show the court they did everything possible to anticipate that exact failure case and either ensure it couldn't happen, or if it they handle it. When someone is dead, "we didn't think about that case" doesn't cut it.
In short, I don't think Apple or google will get anywhere in self driving cars. They have early demonstrations, but that doesn't mean anything long term. It doesn't even prove they have an early lead (though I suspect they do) since car companies might or might not say anything about where they are. In fact in this case I expect them to be very careful not to say anything: if they say to much a lawyer might argue the car should have been self driving and thus the car manufacture is fault for an accident. As such they need to set expectations that self driving cars are a future thing that isn't ready yet.
Besides being a poor investment that would lock up lots of their capital, it would also create a ton of management distractions.
If they are serious about building self-driving cars, they are probably making a huge mistake. Cars have been a poor business model for quite a long time. Licensing automonomous tech seems like a far better business model.
You can sell a car for a lot more if it's being rented out for 12 driving hours per day. Especially so if it's a high end experience. People have a hard time shelling out $60,000 for a car when they could get something pretty adequate for $30,000, but when the choice is a $2 cab ride or a $4 luxury cab ride, a lot more people will pay the margin.
Worse, the people who use their car in the middle of the day are the least likely to use shared cars. They are the most likely to need a change of clothing, a stroller in their car just in case. They are also the most likely to run back and for from their car for each purchase at the mall.
What that leaves is people going to/from work, and their lunch breaks. At this point you may as well own your own car self driving car: at worst it is not much more expensive (shared might be 10% cheaper), and you get to leave your golf clubs in the car while at work. At best you can ignore a few tears and keep the car for longer making owning your own car cheaper than a shared car which needs to maintain appearance and cleanliness standards.
Shared cars work well for those people who rarely use a car. However those are the people who already are renting cars, using taxis and the like for the few times they need a car.
But when the cab ride is a more realistic $25, and a luxury cab ride $50, most people will go for the $25 option. See Uber Black vs Uber X.
PCs and phones are low-margin capital intensive businesses. Apple seems pretty good at commanding high margins in such industries.
As for why Apple doesn't license their tech, well, that's not how Apple operates, because then they lose control over the experience. ROKR and the like.
Apple has made great margins in PCs and Phones because it refused to use commodity operating systems. It's not clear that there is any similar advantage in cars. Everyone will be making autonomous cars, the markets will be highly competitive and they'll still require massive capital investments to make. It's unlikely customers will pay up much for a slightly better autonomous system.
If Apple wanted to go into cars, they should buy Porshe or Ferrari. They actually have brands that make their products difficult or impossible to copy well. Porsche in particular sells cares that are super highly engineered in every area, Apple can't create a Porsche like car business by selling an autonomous car by doing autonomous great, but ride, handling, acceleration, etc just acceptably
But as far as low margins in the car industry goes, that point is irrelevant. Robotaxis are a different ballgame.
I think you're right that when we get self-driving cars it won't be due to a single secret, but rather hundreds of years of engineering time dedicated to getting all the kinks out.
But this is still a super complicated engineering problem, and not all people/orgs will be up to the task, and will not execute on the same timescales.
I think the way this plays out will be determined by how much of a lead the first movers (probably WayMo) will have, and whether companies will cut corners to get something "good enough" out the door, and how the public will react to that.
E.g. I think it's a very different world for automakers if WayMo turns out to have a 5 year lead on them, vs a 1 year lead on them. Cruise certainly looks like they are giving them a good run for their money.
Why cant Apple Ireland buy US companies?