Apple has an office based in a suburb of Ottawa, Canada, that is dedicated to building software for its unofficial car project, Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman and Gerrit De Vynck report.
The office is partially staffed with two dozen engineers poached from BlackBerry, according to the report.
Earlier this year, Apple hired Dan Dodge, who used to be CEO of QNX, BlackBerry’s automotive software division.
They are working on the “software core” of what could become Apple’s car platform. Apple’s self-driving software would apparently run on top of this core operating system, and is being developed by a separate team.
The self-driving team is using virtual reality to test its autonomous driving software. Apparently Doug Bowman, who developed a VR simulation room at Virginia Tech, is working on a simulator that could allow Apple to test its self-driving software without taking a car out onto a public road.
One interesting detail about the way Apple is approaching its car is that the company has envisioned a kind of windshield on steroids that shows apps such as maps or other apps, and is controlled by Siri, Apple’s voice assistant.
Apple’s car may be stuck in neutral. The executive in chage, Bob Mansfield, who came out of retirement to head the project, has given the team a deadline of late 2017 to decide the overall direction of the project.
Apple’s car focus has already shifted away from developing a physical electric car to working on automotive software.