Apple continues to forge ahead with its Project Titan despite some hurdles. The Cupertino company has assembled a team of some of the smartest minds in the automobile industry to work on the so-called Apple car. A new report claims that Apple poached the technical director of Porsche’s race car program in April this year as it explores the self-driving car technology.

Apple Car Concept
Image Credit: Automobile Italia/Flickr

Hitzinger joined ‘A Technology Company’ in April

Alexander Hitzinger had helped design Porsche’s new race car that won the Le Mans championship both in 2015 and 2016. Hitzinger’s move was first reported by Manager Magazin of Germany. According to Reuters, Porsche only confirmed that he had left the sports car company in the spring. Hitzinger played a crucial role in the development of the 919 hybrid sports car from scratch, and chart out Porsche’s return to endurance racing.

Hitzinger’s LinkedIn profile says he left the Volkswagen-owned company in March this year to join “A Technology Company” in the San Francisco Bay area. Manager Magazin quoted him as saying that he wanted to do something that would have “a significant and direct impact on society.” However, he did not confirm that he works at Apple now.

Apple publicly acknowledges Apple car

In a letter to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) earlier this month, Apple publicly acknowledged for the first time that it was investing heavily in self-driving cars. The company urged regulators not to impose too many restrictions on testing of self-driving cars by new players.

The tech giant added that the players should share “crashes and near-misses” data with others to help improve the autonomous driving technology.

Apple car to have a collision avoidance system

Earlier this month, Apple was granted patent for a collision avoidance technology that could help self-driving cars avoid accidents. The system is designed to navigate through unfamiliar areas by calculating its distance with nearby objects and the number of objects within its radius. According to patent documents, the collision avoidance system can detect and avoid both moving and stationary objects.

The system determines potential collisions by comparing the edge distance against a known bounding radius. Its view of the surrounding area is updated 60 times per second. If it predicts a potential collision, it calculates the force required to avoid the obstacle. When it determines that the object is not in its path, the autonomous vehicle will keep moving in the same motion.

Apple car has been a hot topic in the rumor mill for about two years. Initially, the Cupertino company was rumored to be working on a full-fledged car. But after several key departures, Apple shifted its focus to developing the self-driving car technology. It leaves the door open to partner with an established automaker or design its own car at a later stage.