Apple Confirms 190 Layoffs From Self-Driving Car Project

Apple is laying off 190 employees who worked in its Santa Clara and Sunnyvale self-driving car division, the company said in a letter to the California Employment Development Department that was shared by the San Francisco Chronicle.

Affected employees include 38 engineering program managers, 33 hardware engineers, 31 product design engineers, and 22 software engineers, with the layoff set to happen on April 16.

Last month, Apple confirmed that it was removing more than 200 employees from its autonomous car team, with some to be laid off and some to be relocated to other areas in the company.

At the time, an Apple spokesperson said that it was part of a restructuring where the team was focusing on its work for "key areas for 2019."
"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."

"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."
Some rumors have suggested that the layoffs were because of a reorganization under former Tesla engineer Doug Field, who joined the company back in August 2018 to lead the car project alongside Bob Mansfield.

Apple started work on self-driving vehicles back in 2014, with rumors at the time suggesting Apple was working to develop a full 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, which could perhaps explain another major employee shakeup.

Despite the layoffs, Apple says it still sees a huge opportunity in autonomous systems in the future.

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Top Rated Comments

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12 months ago
Makes sense, they probably need to shift some employees over to get that Mac Pro done before it hits the 10 year wall.
Rating: 42 Votes
12 months ago
This company has more money than anyone else - and they have invented pretty much nothing interesting since Steve-o left us. Cooke is good at operations - but their product development sucks now. I literally had to ask Siri how to turn off the new iphone. Get rid of the new Balmer and put in a true visionary to lead this thing.
Rating: 31 Votes
12 months ago
Geez, imagine the way Apple would handle safety recalls on a vehicle: by failing to admit there is a problem, refusing to fix the issue and voiding all responsibility for cars you'd had serviced by anyone else, then co-incidentally fixing the problem while introducing new hazards with their next great idea and leaving owners of the older models high and dry with a vastly devalued, dangerous lemon.
Rating: 21 Votes
12 months ago
Work is starting on the folding iPhone.
Rating: 16 Votes
12 months ago
But but but but but but but but but... TC's pipeline!!
Rating: 11 Votes
12 months ago

Another one down the tubes. Now let's get back to making a proper keyboard & mouse.

Ple e eease do the ke eyboard first.
Rating: 10 Votes
12 months ago
Good. We've been promised flying cars since before the time of the Jetsons. This self-driving car stuff is such a distraction to what Apple should be working on, like where's my robot AppleMaid? That project has been sidelined longer than the MacPro.
Rating: 7 Votes
12 months ago
Time for the Apple car guys put in resumes at Ford Motor in Detroit at the new building, well the old train station.
Rating: 4 Votes
12 months ago

I’m still not certain why Apple keeps resetting this project. Is it really going to bring in that much revenue? Maybe they should focus on AI instead and work on this on a smaller scale.

It's a strong indication Project Titan isn't going well and hints at a revolving door of managers. We see the same thing with Apple India where Apple appointed 4 executives in the past 3 years.

Without a hardware platform for the next decade, AI itself won't meaningfully replace iPhone revenue.
Rating: 4 Votes
12 months ago

I’m still not certain why Apple keeps resetting this project. Is it really going to bring in that much revenue? Maybe they should focus on AI instead and work on this on a smaller scale.

I've said this before a bunch of times, and been mainly dismissed but more and more is showing it's probably true:

I bet Apple wasn't planning for this project to be bring in revenue. Instead Apple wanted a seat at the table of any autonomous car industry if/when it materialized so they could make sure their other products and services integrate well. There is no better way to guarantee yourself a seat at the table than by investing early in R&D to develop lots of valuable IP. I think that is what Apple did (and might still be doing). If they get a modest patent portfolio out of this research, and maybe develop a few innovative algorithms or technologies, it will have been worth it.

This probably took up a small percentage of their R&D budget, so it probably didn't cost much relatively speaking. It just got a ton of media coverage because anything related to Apple is news and anything related to autonomous driving is news, put the two together and it's always guaranteed to draw lots of eyeballs and clicks. But don't confuse media attention to importance within Apple - it probably wasn't considered very important.
Rating: 4 Votes

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