Apple Cuts 200+ Employees From 'Project Titan' Autonomous Car Team

Apple this week removed more than 200 employees from its autonomous car team, known internally as "Project Titan," reports CNBC.

An Apple spokesperson confirmed the layoffs to CNBC, but said that Apple continues to believe there is a "huge opportunity" with autonomous systems. According to the statement provided, some of the former Project Titan employees have been moved to other parts of the company.

"We have an incredibly talented team working on autonomous systems and associated technologies at Apple. As the team focuses their work on several key areas for 2019, some groups are being moved to projects in other parts of the company, where they will support machine learning and other initiatives, across all of Apple," the spokesperson said.

"We continue to believe there is a huge opportunity with autonomous systems, that Apple has unique capabilities to contribute, and that this is the most ambitious machine learning project ever," they added.

In August, Apple hired former Tesla lead engineer Doug Field to lead Project Titan alongside Bob Mansfield, and the employee dismissals this week were reportedly not a surprise, but rather expected restructuring under the new leadership.

Apple began work on Project Titan in 2014, and at the time, rumors suggested the company was working to develop an electric vehicle at a secret location near its Cupertino headquarters.

Leadership issues, internal strife, and other problems impacted the development of the car, and in 2016, new information suggested Apple had shelved its plans for a car to instead focus on an autonomous driving system.

The hiring of Field, who was once Apple's VP of Mac hardware before he went to Tesla, has, however, been seen as a sign that Apple is again developing a full autonomous vehicle.

Reliable Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who often accurately predicts the company's product plans, also believes that an Apple Car is in development with a targeted launch date between 2023 and 2025. With the new restructuring of the project, though, Apple's ultimate autonomous driving plans are unclear, and this could be a sign that a full ‌Apple Car‌ is once again off the table.

Apple has been testing autonomous driving software out on the roads of Cupertino since early 2017, and it has developed a self-driving shuttle service to transport Apple employees between various office locations in Silicon Valley.

In June 2017, Apple CEO Tim Cook confirmed Apple's work on autonomous driving software, an unusual step as Apple does not often share details on products that are still under development.

"We're focusing on autonomous systems," said Cook. "It's a core technology that we view as very important. We sort of see it as the mother of all AI projects."

Related Roundup: Apple Car

Top Rated Comments

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18 months ago
Why Apple, a company with absolutely zero capabilities in car manufacturing and/or AI development has to build automotive AI is beyond me. Where's the core competency? How does it fit into the computer/mobile business?

I just find it laughable how Apple can't invest a few millions in new wireless routers, monitors, you name it as they're not 'core' enough to the business but somehow automotive AI is deserving billions?!
Score: 52 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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18 months ago
Forget it! Five years without making a new MacPro. How can they make a car. I never believe them.
Score: 23 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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18 months ago

Did anyone read the article?

Those parts read like typical corporate damage control PR to me. "Our failure was exactly the way we wanted it, everything is awesome!"
Score: 20 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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18 months ago
Man if this thing ever sees the light of day I hope the stories of this project leak out to the public.
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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18 months ago
The recent revenue guidance really has them shook. Looks like they are cutting high cost programs for shareholders. Unfortunately, iPhone is at peak saturation.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
18 months ago

Why Apple, a company with absolutely zero capabilities in car manufacturing and/or AI development has to build automotive AI is beyond me. Where's the core competency? How does it fit into the computer/mobile business?

I just find it laughable how Apple can't invest a few millions in new wireless routers, monitors, you name it as they're not 'core' enough to the business but somehow automotive AI is deserving billions?!

Tesla can build a car from the ground up, so anyone can.

A car is no longer just a mean of transportation. It's getting smarter and more personal. A smart autonomous car which can take its owner everywhere without a driver is the future. For example, an apple car that connect to apple watch, which know the owner's health, can take the owner to the hospital in case it detect illness. You don't know what a smart car can do until they show you, just like you didn't know what a smart phone was capable of until Apple shows us.

Wireless router, monitors,... are old stuffs. There are others who can do these better than Apple. These are not Apple's core business anymore. And it takes a lot of effort to enter and lead an existing market.

In order to lead the world and open new chapter, Apple need to enter another new market first, just like it did with the iPod, iPhone, Apple Watch, and iPad. There's a lot of risk in new market, but the opportunity is high.

Microsoft and Google are also researching the autonomous vehicles market (Google is doing it). If Apple doesn't do it, Apple will fall behind once Microsoft and Google make their own autonomous car or cooperate with an auto manufacturer.

The autonomous vehicle involves AI, which is Apple's focus now. Apple has been working hard on AI lately, so definitely it needs to at least own an autonomous vehicles software.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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