Apple, VW team up to ferry workers around Cupertino in self-driving T6 vans

Apple transit

Rumors around Apple developing a self-driving car date back years now, but so far, exactly zero self-driving Apple Cars have been spotted. That’s about to change. Several sources are saying the tech giant has inked a deal with Volkswagen to start producing autonomous T6 VW vans that will work as driverless shuttles for Apple employees. The T6 is probably better known as the base for the Westphalia camper and Eurovan models.

Apple had been linked to BMW and Mercedes-Benz but those deals apparently fell through, but the VW deal could be seen as a coup of sorts rather than a last-chance choice: The Volkswagen Group operates no less than 11 different car and vehicle brands, including Audi, Bentley, Lamborghini, Bugatti, Porsche, and of course, Volkswagen. Whether the deal includes access to any or all of those brands is not known; exact terms were not announced. But if it does, it gives Apple’s car tech instant reach across some very popular – and high profile – brands. The modified VW Apple vans – with an engineer in the driver’s seat just in case – are expected to start self-driving around Cupertino sometime next year.

You job is safe for now, human

Speaking of self-driving car projects, you can scratch one off the list, for now at least: Ubers. Two months after a self-driving Uber car hit and killed a woman in Tempe, Uber says it is pulling the plug on their program in its current form in Arizona. The fatal incident put the brakes on self-driving programs in general, but this is perhaps the most visible outcome so far.

An Uber executive said that this isn’t the end of their autonomous vehicle efforts and that testing will resume, eventually, in Pittsburg, where Uber has been testing a fleet of self-driving cars for a while now. Self-driving vehicles are a critical component of Uber’s future plans as a company: fewer humans behind the wheel lowers their costs, and the first company to really prove their self-driving tech works could license it for billions. So, despite this setback, the self-driving race is still definitely on.

Hard choices

We’ve been getting some reps in on the hotly anticipated new video game Detroit: Become Human, and despite some mis-steps, it’s definitely worth checking out. The game comes from French game designer David Cage’s Quantic Dreams studio, and like his previous efforts Beyond: Two Souls and others, it’s highly cinematic, more like a movie than a straight video game.

The setting is the 2030s, and as expected, androids and other automatons now do a bulk of the work once performed by humans, and there is the expected anti-robot sentiment swirling in the background. You play as one of three errant androids that have gained self-awareness – and are subsequently on the run from authorities and the CyberLife corporation, which created them. However, this can lead to some tense interactions, such as when an android takes a young girl hostage and you have to talk him down. Your options are limited.

The game also relies on a few clichés and some weak attempts at social justice/civil rights ideas, but overall, it’s interesting, great looking and engaging to play. Check out Will Fulton’s review and remember to bring $60 if you want to check out what could be our near-future world.

We’ve got more news on our Facebook page and YouTube channel, and be sure to tune in to this week’s DT podcasts: Trends with Benefits (general tech shenanigans)  on Thursdays, and Between the Streams (movie and TV topics) every Friday.

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