Apple hires Nvidia director, adding fuel to Apple Car rumors

Apple has hired Jonathan Cohen, the director of deep learning for chip-maker Nvidia. Though the company is best-known for its graphics products used for computer games, it’s recently been pushing into the world of autonomous vehicles so this adds fuel to the fire that Apple is working on a car, reports Re/code.

Cohen reported the change on his LinkedIn page. Re/code says that deep learningis a branch of artificial intelligence prized at tech companies for its ability to train computers to process patterns in large reams of visual data. Lately, Nvidia has used the technique for cars, the article adds. The company sells its chips — graphic processing units, or GPUs — to carmakers, which use it to power cameras and radar that enable vehicles to drive autonomously.

The Wall Street Journal says Apple’s car project is code-named “Titan.” The article says Steve Zadesky, Apple’s vice president of iPhone/iPod Design has been put in charge of the project, and that he’s assembling a 1,000 member team.

Bloomberg Business claims that Apple, “which has been working secretly on a car, is pushing its team to begin production of an electric vehicle as early as 2020.” 9to5Mac has compiled a list of automotive experts hired by Apple and says “it’s clear Apple’s ambitions go well beyond just its iOS-based CarPlay in-dash system.” BGR notes any “Applemobile” will likely be an electric car of some kind, especially given Apple CEO Tim Cook’s dedication to expanding the use of greener energy.

Still, I'm not the only skeptic. In June, The Register said that Apple said that though Apple wants to compete directly with Google in the car space, “whether the mystery project is a full Apple-branded car or just an Apple OS built into a car from another automaker remains to be seen.” USA Today says that we shouldn’t expect a full-fledged car, but perhaps a dashboard or some other sort of embedded model, and I tend to agree).

What's more, according to a Nielsen and SBD survey of 14,000 recent car buyers, there’s not much interest in an Apple Car. Respondents who owned an iPhone were asked how likely they’d be to buy an Apple car, and the most popular response (47%) was “not likely at all.” Twenty percent said they were “somewhat likely,” 12% were “likely,” 10% were “very likely,” and 11% were “extremely likely.”