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Apple studies self-driving car, auto industry source says

by admin   |   Posted on Monday, February 16th, 2015

Apple CEO Tim Cook speaks during a presentation at Apple headquarters in Cupertino, California October 16, 2014.
CREDIT: REUTERS/ROBERT GALBRAITH

(Reuters) – Technology giant Apple (AAPL.O) is looking beyond mobile devices to learn how to make a self-driving electric car, and is talking to experts at carmakers and automotive suppliers, a senior auto industry source familiar with the discussions said on Saturday.

The Cupertino, California-based maker of phones, computers and, soon, watches is exploring how to make an entire vehicle, not just designing automotive software or individual components, the auto industry source said.

“They don’t appear to want a lot of help from carmakers,” said the source, who declined to be named.

Apple is gathering advice on parts and production methods, focusing on electric and connected-car technologies, while studying the potential for automated driving, the source said.

“Fully automated driving is an evolution. Carmakers will slowly build the market for autonomous cars by first releasing connected and partially automated cars,” the auto industry source said. “Apple is interested in all the potential ways you can evolve the car; that includes autonomous driving.”

Whether it will build and release an electric car or a more evolved autonomous vehicle remains to be seen, the source said.

But clearly Apple has sharply raised its ambitions in automotive technology. Car technology has become a prime area of interest for Silicon Valley companies ranging from Google Inc (GOOGL.O), which has built a prototype self-driving car, to electric car-maker Tesla Motors Inc (TSLA.O).

An Apple spokesman in London on Saturday declined to comment on “rumors or speculation”.

Trying to build an actual car would mark a dramatic shift for the maker of the iPhone and iPad. Apple often researches projects which are then discarded, but has so far mainly stuck to its core expertise in mobile and electronic devices.

The Wall Street Journal reported on Friday that Apple had set up a secret lab working on the creation of an Apple-branded electric car, citing people familiar with the matter. The lab was set up late last year, soon after Apple revealed its forthcoming smart watch and latest iPhones, the Financial Times said.

The Journal said that the Apple project, code-named “Titan”, employed several hundred people working a few miles from Apple’s headquarters in Cupertino.

Apple executives met with contract manufacturers including Magna Steyr in Austria, a unit of Magna International (MG.TO), the Journal said. A Magna spokeswoman declined to comment.

THE PATH TO SELF-DRIVING CARS

Autonomous driving is likely to emerge progressively as driver assistance systems become more sophisticated.

Already, carmakers such as Daimler (DAIGn.DE), BMW (BMWG.DE) and Volkswagen’s (VOWG_p.DE) Audi (NSUG.DE) have revealed cars that can travel long distances without human intervention.

Analysts at Exane BNP Paribas have said they see a $25 billion market for automated driving technology by 2020, with vehicle intelligence becoming “the key differentiating factor”. But the brokerage does not expect fully automated cars to hit the road until 2025 or 2030, in part due to regulatory hurdles.

Short of building entire cars, there is money to be made from the software to run a self-driving vehicle, as well as the services associated with autonomous driving, such as mapping, car-sharing and car recharging services, the auto source said.

“It’s a software game. It’s all about autonomous driving,” the industry source said.

Apple may be pursuing mainly auto industry expertise rather than full-scale partnerships with established car companies.

With its soon-to-be-launched Apple Watch, the company had held limited discussions with Swiss watchmakers, but no broad-based alliance emerged from the talks.

Instead of partnerships, Apple pursued a go-it-alone strategy and turned to poaching talent from top watch brands.

Two different sources have told Reuters that Apple has tried to recruit auto industry experts in areas such as robotics.

(Additional reporting by Eric Auchard in Frankfurt; Editing by Noah Barkin/Hugh Lawson)

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Tanker attacks in Gulf of Oman fuel security, oil supply fears

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Friday, June 14th, 2019

Fire burning on oil tanker at sea | Courtesy: Image grabbed from a Reuters video

Attacks on two oil tankers on Thursday (June 13) in the Gulf of Oman left one ablaze and both adrift, shipping firms said, driving oil prices up 4 percent over worries about Middle East supplies.

The Front Altair was on fire in waters between Gulf Arab states and Iran after an explosion that a source blamed on a magnetic mine. The crew of the Norwegian vessel were picked up by a vessel in the area and passed to an Iranian rescue boat.

A second Japanese-owned tanker was abandoned after being hit by a suspected torpedo, the firm that chartered the ship said. The crew were also picked up.

The attacks were the second in a month near the Strait of Hormuz, a major strategic waterway for world oil supplies. (REUTERS)

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Saudi Arabia’s Abha airport attacked by Yemen’s Houthi group

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Friday, June 14th, 2019

Courtesy : Reuters

The Saudi-led military coalition vowed to respond firmly to a missile attack by Yemeni Houthi forces on a civilian airport in southern Saudi Arabia on Wednesday (June 12) that wounded 26 people.

The coalition said a projectile hit the arrivals hall at Abha airport, causing material damage.

Three women and two children were among the wounded, who were of Saudi, Yemeni and Indian nationalities, it said in a statement on Thursday (June 13).

Meanwhile, planes from the Saudi-led military coalition fighting in Yemen bombed areas around the capital Sanaa on Thursday, residents and the Houthi-run Al-Masirah TV said.

The Western-backed, Sunni Muslim coalition has been battling the Iranian-aligned Houthi movement in Yemen since 2015 when it intervened to try to restore the internationally recognized government that was ousted from the capital Sanaa by the Houthis in late 2014. (REUTERS)

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Hong Kong protesters condemn ‘unreasonable’ police violence

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Friday, June 14th, 2019

Police gathered in Tamar Park | Courtesy: Image grabbed from a Reuters video

Hong Kong demonstrators who experienced tear gas when the anti-extradition protest turned violent said on Thursday (June 13) that they condemned the ‘unreasonable’ use of force by the police.

Hundreds of people remained on the streets to protest a planned extradition law with mainland China, a day after police fired rubber bullets, tear gas and pepper spray in a series of skirmishes to clear demonstrators from the legislature, with officials saying 72 people had been admitted to hospital by 10 p.m.

Uniformed police with helmets and shields blocked overhead walkways in Hong Kong’s financial district on Thursday, while a long row of police vans was parked nearby.

Plainclothes police officers checked commuters’ identity papers as a massive clean-up was underway, clearing streets of debris, like broken umbrellas used by protesters to protect themselves and broken baricades, left from the violent clashes.

Protesters, some still wearing face masks and goggles in case police once again use tear gas, were joined by students during the day.

But their numbers eased off later to a few hundred, after a Legislative Council meeting to discuss the extradition bill was postponed. (REUTERS)

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