Former Tesla Lead Engineer Doug Field Returns to Apple to Work on Project Titan

Apple's former VP of Mac hardware engineering Doug Field has returned to the tech giant's ranks after five years working at Tesla, where he oversaw production of the Model 3.

Daring Fireball writer John Gruber broke the news on Thursday after speaking to an Apple spokesperson who confirmed only that Field had returned to the company that he left in 2013.


However Gruber's contacts within Apple informed him that Field will link up with former colleague Bob Mansfield to work on Apple's self-driving car program, Project Titan.

Field began his career at Ford as a development engineer, before moving on to Segway and then to Apple, and his return is already fueling speculation that Apple's self-driving ambitions have been rejuvenated under the leadership of Mansfield.

Rather than solely developing autonomous systems for existing car manufacturers, Apple's rehiring of Field could indicate that the company still retains an interest in building its own vehicles.

When Apple began working on Project Titan in 2014, upwards of 1,000 employees were said to have been working on developing an electric vehicle at a secret location near its Cupertino headquarters.

However, internal strife and leadership issues reportedly caused Apple to transition its focus to an autonomous driving system and pursue partnerships with existing carmakers instead of building a full car. Hundreds of employees were said to have been laid off as a result.

Little is known about the inner workings of Apple's Project Titan group, but court documents filed in July indicate that as many as 5,000 people are authorized at Apple to access information about the project.

Apple has also been significantly ramping up its fleet of vehicles running self-driving sensor equipment. As of May 2018, the company has 62 vehicles out on the road using its autonomous driving software.

Apple is also working on a self-driving shuttle service called "PAIL" (an acronym for "Palo Alto to Infinite Loop"). The shuttle program will transport employees between Apple's office in Silicon Valley.

Related Roundup: Apple Car

Top Rated Comments

(View all)
Avatar
25 months ago
Sneaky.

Tim: Hey Doug, why don't you go work for Tesla for a few years. Find out everything that they know, then come back to us?
Doug: Alrighty then.
Score: 22 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
25 months ago
Is overseeing production of the Tesla Model 3 supposed to be a recommendation?
Score: 16 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
25 months ago

You got all that from sitting in it, huh?

He felt the interior looked like a load of cheap plastic and feels it’s dangerous to use the screen for every single function within the car. Well, the latter was mentioned in reviews of the Model III. And yes, you can tell what a vehicle interior is like by sitting in it.

10 yrs

You think an Apple car would be 2028? Interesting.
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
25 months ago

This information content is almost enough for a boring canteen conversation...
[doublepost=1533896492][/doublepost]

...well, maybe Apple will fix the design of the button-covered steering wheels.

Well, they will probably cover it in a touchpad with no tactile response, but hey it will look good.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
25 months ago

Over 15K of the car (which currently starts at over $40K, after incentives) were sold in the US in July. That puts it well ahead of any sedan of comparable price, and in the same ballpark as the Civic, the top selling sedan in the US, despite that being available for half the price.

So whoever is responsible for that certainly would be a good person to put in charge of putting a new vehicle into production.

The only question is whether that person is Doug Field, Elon Musk, or someone else. It should be noted that production was only at 2K per month when Doug left but 3 months later it was at 15K - was it just that Doug had everything lined up for when Elon took over, or was it that Elon worked a miracle in the 3 months?

We’ll probably find out in a few years when someone is doing research for a book or something.

Yeap, I believe the model I was in, the sedan, starts from around 55k in the UK, that’s serious German make or Jaguar money. And when the build quality is poor at that price... not very impressive.

And another thing the Tesla employee told me was that the advertised range was not actually true! It’s a lot lower but he blamed some advertising regulations for it...

As for the stupid interface, even Ford has usually done well with voice control, Mercedes uses it, BMW have inroduced hand features which work well.
You look at the Range Rover with its dual screens, same issue as the Tesla. The same with Audi’s, the reviewers all say you have to take your eyes off the road! All though at least with Audi it’s Virtual Cockpit dash works very well and can display a lot of info, but that’s not controlling the cars features.

Love the non-owners chiming in.

All I can say is that the car is not only the funnest car I’ve bet driven, but is the fastest car on the road. After owning one for a year, I’ve never encountered another car that could beat me. Muscles cars, Porsche, you name it.

Also it drives itself, literally.

So besides the simple interior, this is the best car from the planet. Coming from an owner. Free charging for life is a sweet deal too
[doublepost=1533904343][/doublepost]

A guy I know took me out for a spin in his and yes, I can confirm that some drivers allow this to be a huge distraction. He spent less time looking at the road than he did at the screen, playing with it. Terrifying, even with all the driver aids.

Why would this be an issue if the car is driving itself? It’s not a distraction even when the car isn’t taking over since you have a main screen HUD in the drivers dashboard
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
25 months ago
No clue on what they are doing, but in Bob Mansfield, I trust.
(And, to keep Ive's skinny mantra away.)

The lone star in Apple's executive bin.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

Apple Warns Against Closing MacBooks With a Cover Over the Camera

Friday July 10, 2020 11:12 am PDT by
Apple this month published a support document that warns customers against closing their Mac notebooks with a cover over the camera as it can lead to display damage. Image via Reddit Apple says that the clearance between the display and the keyboard is designed to very tight tolerances, which can be problematic. Covering the camera can also cause issues with automatic brightness and True Tone....

iPhone Users Who Experienced 'Batterygate' Can Now File to Receive Around $25 Settlement From Apple

Monday July 13, 2020 6:50 am PDT by
Earlier this year, Apple agreed to settle a U.S. class action lawsuit that accused the company of "secretly throttling" older iPhone models. Now, eligible iPhone owners are beginning to be notified about their legal rights and options. Under the proposed settlement, Apple will provide a cash payment of approximately $25 to each eligible iPhone owner who submits a claim, with its total payout ...

Possible 'iPhone 12' Battery Certifications Suggest Lower Capacities Than iPhone 11 Series

Monday July 13, 2020 4:22 am PDT by
MySmartPrice has spotted certifications for three new Apple batteries that it believes could be for the upcoming iPhone 12 lineup, despite them being less capacitive than the batteries in the current iPhone 11 series. The batteries are identified with the model numbers A2471, A2431, and A2466, and appear on Safety Korea, China's 3C, and the Danish agency UL Demko. Apple is expected to...

Google to 'Dramatically' Improve Chrome Impact on Mac Battery Life

Sunday July 12, 2020 1:56 pm PDT by
Google will address long-standing battery life issues, particularly on Mac devices, reports The Wall Street Journal. Chrome will improve "tab throttling" by better prioritizing active tabs and limiting resource drain from tabs open in the background. This is said to have a "dramatic impact on battery and performance." Google has reportedly been performing early tests on Mac laptops in...

Arm-Intel-PowerPC Universal Binaries Are Possible

Saturday July 11, 2020 1:42 pm PDT by
Casual MacRumors visitors may not realize that we have a very active PowerPC forum where users discuss issues related to PowerPC Macs that have not been produced since 2006. Threads range from hardware upgrades and software options to nostalgia: Photo by AphoticD Apple's recently announced transition to Apple Silicon (Arm) based Macs raised some interesting questions about future support...

Apple Pays Samsung an Estimated $950 Million for Missing OLED Panel Purchase Targets

Monday July 13, 2020 10:03 am PDT by
Apple in the second quarter of 2020 paid Samsung approximately $950 million for not meeting OLED panel purchase goals established in agreements between the two companies, according to display analysts at Display Supply Chain Consultants. Samsung last week shared guidance on revenue and operating profit for the second quarter of 2020, which included a one-time gain related to its display...

Apple Shares Humorous 'Working-From-Home Thing' Video

Monday July 13, 2020 9:31 am PDT by
Apple today shared a funny video focused on the problems that people working from home have to deal with, including noisy children, chaotic schedules, communication issues, and more. The video focuses on showing off Apple products and their capabilities that can be useful when working from home, such as the ability to scan a document with an iPhone, mark up a PDF, Siri Reminders, and more.The...

SoftBank Considering Possible Sale of Arm Holdings as Apple Gears Up for Arm-Based Macs

Monday July 13, 2020 2:00 pm PDT by
SoftBank, the company that owns chip designer Arm Holdings, is exploring options that include a full or partial sale or a public offering, reports The Wall Street Journal. SoftBank is working with Goldman Sachs Group as an advisor, and the explorations are at an early stage. The Wall Street Journal says that it's unknown how much interest there would be in Arm from financial or industry...

Rumor Suggests New Apple App for Windows Could Be Coming Soon

Tuesday July 14, 2020 1:54 am PDT by
Apple could be working towards the release of a new app for Windows 10, according to a report this week from an Italian website. The blog Aggiornamenti Lumia suggests that an app from Apple is "coming soon" to the Microsoft Store, but stops short of providing additional details. Apple still maintains a Windows version of the iTunes app, which has been discontinued on Mac and replaced by...

Deals: Amazon Taking $400 Off 16-Inch MacBook Pro, Starting at New Low Price of $1,999.99 for 512GB

Monday July 13, 2020 5:34 am PDT by
Amazon has introduced a new low price on Apple's 16-inch MacBook Pro today, including both 512GB and 1TB models. Starting with the 512GB model (2.6GHz 6-Core, 16GB RAM), you can get this notebook for $1,999.99, down from $2,399.00. Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with Amazon. When you click a link and make a purchase, we may receive a small payment, which helps us keep the site running....