Apple lays off Project Titan employees, rethinks self-driving car business strategy

Apple’s flagship autonomous vehicle initiative dubbed as Project Titan is getting a massive reboot and refresh under the leadership of Bob Mansfield. The company has reportedly fired dozens of Project Titan employees since the focus has shifted to backbone autonomous vehicle technology from self-driving cars.

According to a report released by the New York Times, the company has shifted the focus to work on backbone autonomous vehicle technology. This is in sharp contrast to the previous project which involves design and production of a full-fledged self-driving car.

Apple testing autonomous vehicles in closed facilities

Furthermore, the report reveals that Apple is already testing fully autonomous vehicles in closed facilities. This means that the new initiative is making steady progress. Even though we don’t know the exact location of the on-going evaluation, there were rumors that the Cupertino-based tech giant is conducting the tests at GoMentum, a former naval base in California.

Mansfield assumed full charge of Project Titan

According to credible sources, Apple has rented a portion of the location by converting the field into a test track for autonomous vehicles. The latest development comes in the wake of a previous report that Mansfield has assumed complete control of Project Titan.

Earlier, the project was handled by Steve Zadesky, who quit the company due to unknown reasons. Even though Mansfield announced his intention to retire from the company in 2012, he continued as SVP of Technologies until July 2013. He left the executive team to pursue his own personal ambitions but continued as a special advisor to CEO Tim Cook.

Apple switched gears after firing employees

Meanwhile, the decision of Apple to switch gears comes at the cost of employees. The whole Project Titan team comprised of more than 1000 employees including engineers pulled from various other internal departments. Moreover, the company also deployed specialized scientists such as Dan Dodge, who previously worked with the embedded operating systems department of QNX.

To recall, QNX was acquired by BlackBerry in 2010 and manufactures embedded operating platforms for the development of in-car infotainment solutions.

Project Titan testing at Sunnyvale

According to a popular tech portal covering Apple, the Project Titan was announced in December 2015 and was tested at a top-secret facility in Sunnyvale, California. If rumors are to be believed, Apple is scheduled to manufacture electric car by 2020.

Project Titan troubled in September 2015 with slow progress

The project began to experience signs of trouble in September 2015 then the management expressed unhappiness with the slow progress of the group. Around that time, analysts said that a production Apple Car will not see limelight until 2021.

With original concept by Tesla, the self-driving cars emerged as a popular mode of the vehicle with big companies such as Apple and Google entered into the project. When you compare the two companies, Tesla is way ahead in this segment. There are also reports that Uber is also testing self-driving cars in few key locations in the US.

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