An Apple representative acknowledged that Apple had dismissed just over 200 employees from its autonomous vehicle initiative Project Titan. The statement does not offer specifics on whether all or some of the 200 employees were dismissed or just reassigned to different parts of the company.
In August 2018, Tesla’s former engineering Vice President Doug Field was appointed by Apple to lead the team “Titan,” and these layoffs have been speculated to be part of a restructuring process under the new leadership. In 2016, the Cupertino-based tech giant laid off employees from the same group, shifting its strategy while fully self-driving cars remain experimental for other major players in the field such as Waymo, Cruise, and Elon Musk headed Tesla, the report said.
We have an incredibly talented team working on autonomous systems and associated technologies at Apple for 2019, some groups are being moved to projects in other parts of the company – An Apple spokesperson
Such a move came just two months after one-time SVP of hardware engineering Mansfield was handed the reins to Titan following the abrupt departure of former project head Steve Zadesky. Rumors of Apple’s interest in fully autonomous vehicle technology first surfaced in 2015. Reports at the time claimed the tech giant planned to build an in-house designed vehicle. The ground-up went so far as to begin preliminary discussions to build an automotive plant in the U.S.
An earlier report quoting Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo predicted that the company is working on the Apple Car and is expected to launch in between 2023-2025. However, with this latest dismissal of so many employees, it is unclear to what we see to the company’s autonomous car project.