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.

applecar
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

tardegrade Avatar
32 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)
splitpea Avatar
32 months ago
Is overseeing production of the Tesla Model 3 supposed to be a recommendation?
Score: 16 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Mac Fly (film) Avatar
32 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)
TheFluffyDuck Avatar
32 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)
Amacfa Avatar
32 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)
TheShadowKnows! Avatar
32 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)

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