The New York Times reported yesterday that Apple and Volkswagen AG have signed a deal to create self-driving vehicles.

The article traces back from Apple’s original ambition to lead the development of autonomous electric cars and explains how this became the current deal to create autonomous shuttles for the company’s employees.

The New York Times references former Apple employees and ‘five people close to the negotiations who asked not to be identified because they were not authorised to discuss the matter publicly.’ They revealed that Apple had previously held talks with BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Nissan, McLaren and BYD Auto, among other automotive manufacturers. However, talks were unsuccessful due to the amount of control demanded by Apple.

Apple finally managed to find a partner for this project late last year. Volkswagen will reportedly work with Apple to transform their T6 vans into electric self-driving shuttles. These shuttles, which will still have a driver to take over if necessary, will be used to transport Apple employees from one of its Silicon Valley companies to the other. There will also be an operator in the shuttle who will track its performance.

The project is said to be taking place at a lab in Italy near Turin. The T6 vans will keep their frames and chassis but will get new dashboards, seats, sensors and, of course, batteries.

The project had been scheduled to be completed by the end of this year, however, The New York Times’ sources say that this will be missed. Both Apple and Volkswagen declined to comment.

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