Could Rivian actually be Apple’s Project Titan?

MattpR1T

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The timing of some things seems a little too coincidental.

Apple started project titan in 2014 Rivian gets a large investment in 2015 with which it opens research facilities in the Bay Area and Michigan.

Apple has been canvassing the country with their own “street view” cars except these have lidar arrays. This hasn’t been used in any public products as of yet but makes sense for autonomous cars.

Project Titan has had a roster of about 1000 engineers working on it at its peak and its no secret that autonomy with Lidar is one of their primary goals.

Rivian launches at the LA auto show (11/2018) promising a product that leapfrogs Tesla in several key aspects. Autonomous driving with Lidar one of them. (Rivian was autocorrected in my iPhone from this point on)

Project Titan in January started to lay-off some of its Talent. Rivian is hiring people to do those same things.

If I’m way off base where did Rivian get it’s self driving tech? An relatively unheard of startup has gotten a product out that all of the newsworthy companies can’t? I’m talking Cruise Automation, Waymo and the likes.

Discuss.
 

franke

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Timing and logistics aside if they are one and the same, or at least working together, why would they not leverage the Apple name instead of going with Rivian?

It's one of the most recognizable brands in the world and would instantly catapult them on par with or above Tesla in terms of name recognition and cachet. Rivian is still unknown to the average person. Apple isn't exactly shy about branding either, just saying...
 

Alan Burns

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I drove home last evening on US Hwy 12 over Lolo Pass. This is a narrow 2 lane secondary road that has one of those squiggly S curve signs telling you to expect winding roads for the next 99 miles. Posted speeds are 55 and 50 mph with a number of 45 mph warnings. The roads have been plowed and sanded and center lines are mostly invisible and won't be for months. It was snowing at the top for about a mile so the road was 2 lanes of white. There are short sections whe you can actually pass slow moving vehicles especially if you learned to drive before Interstate highways came along.

Self driving cars and semis, yes, I met 2 semis in the curves last night, are going to work well over these roads during these conditions?

Alan
Missoula
 
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MattpR1T

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Apple isn’t shy about branding, absolutely correct but apple is a consumer electronics brand and I don’t think they want to dilute/tarnish the brand with a potentially risky endeavor like an auto startup. It’s worthwhile to be a silent partner in development and wait and see to make sure the self driving tech isn’t driving itself off the road.

If your phone crashes it’s not a life or death situation (and that’s coming from a millennial).

Alan please stay on topic we’re not arguing the merits of self driving just who might be developing the tech behind the scenes.

Thanks
 

bathbunny

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Apple isn’t shy about branding, absolutely correct but apple is a consumer electronics brand and I don’t think they want to dilute/tarnish the brand with a potentially risky endeavor like an auto startup. It’s worthwhile to be a silent partner in development and wait and see to make sure the self driving tech isn’t driving itself off the road.

If your phone crashes it’s not a life or death situation (and that’s coming from a millennial).

Alan please stay on topic we’re not arguing the merits of self driving just who might be developing the tech behind the scenes.

Thanks
That would mean Amazon is investing in an Apple venture -- does not seem too likely.
In any case, Apple's philosophy since its initial success with the iPhone has been "soak the customer to the max" and "keep customers addicted to the brand name", using exactly the same approach (and the same pricing strategy) as Louis-Vuitton or Rolex or Chanel. I don't want a fashion house that spends a huge fraction of its budget on advertising, is suing other companies over intellectual property of rounded rectangles, and has not come up with much new since the (admittedly revolutionary) first iPhone, to be the one building my future electric pickup truck... I agree there is something of a mystery with the fate of project Titan, but could it not just be that Apple has simply lost its technical creativity and retained only smart, but unimaginative, perfectionists? Company culture has an enormous effect on projects and perhaps Apple was no longer the right place for a project like Titan, so they eventually recognized it and terminated Titan, swallowed their losses, and went on to make an even more perfect, even more expensive version of the iPhone ;-)
Tesla (well Musk, and thus Tesla as long as the SEC lets Musk run it) has a mission to bring clean transportation to humankind; I cannot imagine Apple doing that. Scaringe appears to be on a mission as well and so looks an unlikely puppet for Apple... Should the day come when Apple or Rivian announce they are together, that's the day I will ask for a refund of my deposit and turn to Tesla (or Bollinger if they make it). But I don't think that day will come, esp. not now that Amazon has a substantial investment in the company.
 
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MattpR1T

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Honestly Rivian is a premium brand and if they become the Jeep of the 21st century then that’s exactly the high margin market is looking for. Siri doesn’t try and sell you things Alexa does. Why would amazon put an App on an iPhone if investing in Apple ventures was unprofitable.

I digress, Rivian’s promised self driving tech is either a big secretive tech companies IP hiding in plain sight or Rivian has pulled a rabbit out of a hat.
 

KeithPleas

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I digress, Rivian’s promised self driving tech is either a big secretive tech companies IP hiding in plain sight or Rivian has pulled a rabbit out of a hat.
That's a truly intriguing idea - and Apple is famously secretive so that would fit. I actually looked at the Rivian job postings a month or so ago to see what they were recruiting for and I don't recall seeing a bunch of AI there, so a partner seems like a good bet.
 
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MattpR1T

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It’s completely possible that Seimens or Bosch or one of the other OE suppliers have systems that they have been working on and Rivian just hasn’t disclosed the source yet.

But the way Rivian launched is very Apple like. Have a product that’s nearly production ready. Provide 3 tiers of the same product (storage/battery). Aim for the higher end of the market (premium yet not completely out of reach). Build an ecosystem moat (interchangeable beds).

There was no concept cars, no pipe dream that’s maybe 5 years away, no this is what we’re working on.
 

ThumprMN

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Interesting idea, except that at every "Meet up" event I've attended, someone has asked about iPhone integration and the staff on hand are quick to respond that it will work natively with Amazon Alexa ecosystem. I was behind one Apple Engineer who had placed an reservation order and wanted to know if it would support Apple Car Play, and the representative from Rivian said, "Not for now, but they are looking into it." Doesn't sound promising to me as an "Apple vehicle"

I think the heavy investments from Amazon is a big indicator that Rivian is NOT a secret apple skunkworks project. #My2Cents
 

Coast2Coast

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Apple doesn't have to be working secretly with Rivian for Rivian to benefit greatly from Apple and the Titian project. Rivian can hire laid off Titan engineers, and it's undoubtedly done so, and Rivian can drink in whatever lessons it wants from Apple's market positioning, customer relations, branding, product cycle strategies, etc.

Rivian has time to develop stuff internally, work with partners or even buy companies in the AD space. Rivian's offering level 2 at the outset, and promises to offer level 3 in the future, but makes no promises about when that will happen.
 

electruck

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The original post is almost 18 months old at this point. I think enough has been revealed in that time that we can safely dismiss any hypothetical links between Apple and Rivian aside from the fact that we do know Rivian has hired former Apple engineers (most famously, Rivian's now former CTO).
 
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