Apple has reportedly lost several top managers that used to be attached to the self-driving vehicle team for its electric Apple Car as the bumpy road to Project Titan continues.
- The Apple Car team has apparently lost several top managers.
- This could be a “sign of attrition” within the secretive division.
- It could also mean another change of strategy for Project Titan.
- An autonomous Apple vehicle may launch between 2023 and 2025.
Apple Car self-driving managers quit Project Titan
Blomberg‘s Mark Gurman has the report:
The iPhone maker has hundreds of engineers working on underlying self-driving car technology as well as groups of employees working on an actual vehicle, Bloomberg News has reported. Running the division is Doug Field, a former top vehicle engineer for Tesla Inc., along with a management team of fewer than a dozen executives. At least three members of that Apple car management team have departed this year.
The following Project Titan executives have reportedly left Apple:
- Dave Scott: He led teams working on Apple Car robotics, but is now Hyperfine’s CEO.
- Jaime Waydo: Having led autonomous car safety/regulation teams, he’s now Cavnue’s CTO.
- Benjamin Lyon: He helped create the Apple Car original team, now Astra’s chief engineer.
On the flip side, the article says the Cupertino firm also hired a bunch of industry veterans and executives for Project Titan, including ex-Tesla executives in charge of drive systems and manufacturing engineering, car interiors and exteriors as well as self-driving software.
At any rate, Apple isn’t nixing Project Titan just yet—prior reports said John Giannandrea, Apple’s Senior Vice President of machine learning and artificial intelligence hired away from Google, has been overseeing the Apple Car project since December 2020.
Why are some Apple Car execs leaving?
It’s impossible to tell why these high-rated executives that Apple lured away from their respective companies a few years ago are now leaving Project Titan. It’s also difficult to tell whether these departures are business as usual or “a sign of attrition at the division involved in what could become an important future product” as Bloomberg put it.
Since the project’s beginning around 2014, Apple’s work on a car has been rebooted several times and has seen multiple management changes. The Cupertino, California-based company initially set out to build a full car to rival Tesla, but pared back its ambitions around 2016 to focus on the underlying self-driving car system. Several months ago, it set out again to build a car, placing a portion of the division’s engineers on that effort.
One possibility is that Apple has abandoned the self-driving car project entirely. Another one could mean that Apple has decided that full self-driving capability just isn’t feasible within a reasonable timeframe. Those managers might have been offered other positions concerning Project Titan, and some of them could have rejected Apple’s offer and left for greener pastures.
But wait, Tesla’s been testing its self-driving thing for years now. Elon Musk, after all, has been advertising full autonomous driving like there’s no tomorrow. In reality, Tesla told the California Department of Motor Vehicles that fully self-driving cars may not be achieved by year-end.
“Tesla indicated that they are still firmly in Level 2,” the department said in the memo, obtained by Reuters. “As Tesla is aware, the public’s misunderstanding about the limits of the technology and its misuse can have tragic consequences.”
For those wondering, fully autonomous technology is referred to as Level 5.