Currently reading: 200 staff axed from Apple's Project Titan autonomy project
Reports suggest restructuring in progress at Apple's driverless technology programme, with job cuts confirmed
2 mins read
24 January 2019

Apple is restructuring its driverless car technology project after confirming 200 job losses from the team.

The job cuts were first reported by US news outlet CNBC and then confirmed by an Apple spokesperson. Further employees are expected to move back to other departments within the Californian company. 

In 2018 Apple re-hired Doug Field, former hardware engineer at the firm, from an engineering role at Tesla. He was put in place to lead the autonomous programme, dubbed Project Titan. It is thought that work will still continue on driverless software and hardware within the programme. 

Apple CEO Tim Cook confirmed it had ditched its plan to build an autonomous car in 2017. Following Cook's comments that Apple would continue developing autonomous car technology but has halted development of its own car, five anonymous sources told The New York Times that issues arose from a lack of direction in the project.

Some leading employees wanted to develop a fully autonomous car, while others were convinced that a semi-autonomous vehicle was more appropriate. The delays these discussions caused put Apple behind its main rivals, leading to the shelving of the original project.

Speaking to Bloomberg in 2017, Cook explained that the technology giant was now completely focused on developing an autonomous system - something he said was "a core technology that we view as very important". He said the work was “probably one of the most difficult [artificial intelligence] projects to work on".

Apple, which had reportedly been working on its so-called iCar project late into 2016, had failed to close a supply deal with BMW and Daimler for its systems. ABI Research senior analyst James Hodgson believes this, and its project shift, could have cost Apple in the race to help produce a fully driverless car. “[Apple was] slow to begin testing autonomous systems and now it has a considerable innovation gap to close,” he said.

Apple and McLaren were also reported to be in talks in 2016 when the tech giant was said to be looking into a takeover bid of the British supercar maker. The talks have since closed and both parties declined to comment on the matter.

Apple's changing driverless project is said to have seen the resignation, dismissal or reassignment of 1000 employees prior to the latest batch of job cuts.

Read more:

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17 October 2016
What does Apple know about autonomous driving? To do that you need deep automotive engineering experience of which they have none. Will they compete with Tesla? Didn't think so. And Merc politely showed them the door on the way out when they wanted to dictate terms.

18 October 2016
manicm wrote:

What does Apple know about autonomous driving? To do that you need deep automotive engineering experience of which they have none. Will they compete with Tesla? Didn't think so. And Merc politely showed them the door on the way out when they wanted to dictate terms.

Presumably Tesla didn't know much about the autonomous driving before started on the technology either, and they haven't been dong this for that long either. It's not difficult to employ the right engineers, designers etc to bring in the knowhow, especially given Apple's enormous multi-billion dollar cash pile.

17 October 2016
Apple is looking to partner with a contract manufacturer like Magna Steyr AG or looking to take over a smaller manufacturer like McLaren completely, just like they do with their other product lines. I doubt they would make electronics for other manufacturers. If they are still developing car software its to use in their own car.

17 October 2016
I doubt that Apple were really looking to take over McLaren as the business would only then be a very small part of the multi billion giant Apple is. Instead, it would have been a technology transfer they'd be interested in. McLaren being one of the foremost carbon fibre automotive manufacturers, and more importantly, were able to reduce the time and cost of the tub. All very important for a next generation car if you skip aluminium pressings. As impressive as the McLaren technology is, and it is impressive, it's probably not ready to be scaled to the levels Apple would need for their own automotive project. I'm sure the talk was really just about who could do what for each of them. It might have just been to get McLaren to design the Apple car for them!

17 October 2016
I thought I read the McLaren Monocells were made by a specialist in Austria ?

18 October 2016
I.e. Tried to do find they couldn't then gradually pull back to save losing face

18 October 2016
Well following the story on Samsung 7 and the market share they expect to lose to Apple. The fact that Samsung make the chips for the iPhone was well published. The point being the car and the phone can be about design, software and assembly. Reading the articles on here you can buy EV running gear from GKN off the shelf. As Apples does I'm sure it could bring all the hardware bits together and design an Apple wrapping.

18 October 2016
Not surprised, it was a stupid move for the company anyway and had the whiff of getting on the EV bandwagon just because everybody else has...a fad if you like. Apple couldn't offer anything new (contrary to wide belief they're not miracle workers!) in the field. And longterm once all the other major car brands have they're EV ranges (or just car ranges as EV's will become the standard just as combustion engine vehicles have been a standard for the last century or so) Apple would not of been able to compete, and I believe Tesla's days are numbered too. In the long run they'll just become an (important mind) historical footnote in automotive history...

14 June 2017
First Google then Apple, hopefully Autocar will be next and realize the limitations of the autonomous myth and stop doing 5 stories a day.

14 June 2017
Agree. You often get the impression Autocar embrace with relish the idea of not having to actually drive the car.


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