- Apple laid off 200 employees from its self-driving car unit, “Project Titan,” CNBC reported.
- An Apple spokesperson confirmed the news to CNBC, but added that some employees have been moved to other departments in the company, rather than being fully dismissed.
- Apple’s secretive car project has been going since 2014, and has been marked by executive reshuffles, changes in direction, and rounds of layoffs.
- In 2018 Apple poached two Tesla executives, and the layoffs have reportedly been billed as another restructure for the project.
Apple has laid off 200 people from its secretive self-driving car division Project Titan, CNBC reported.
An Apple spokesman confirmed the departures to CNBC, and said some other employees impacted by the restructure were moving to other parts of Apple.
“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,” the spokesman added.
Apple’s Project Titan has been going since 2014, although the actual details of what it’s up to are hazy. The firm was initially thought to be working on an electric car, but senior hires in 2016 signalled that it had shifted to developing software for self-driving cars. In 2018, news emerged that Apple was testing self-driving cars in California, but CEO Tim Cook indicated in interviews that the firm was more focused on autonomous vehicle software.
An FBI affadavit from an investigation into an employee stealing trade secrets showed that 5,000 employees are involved with the project in some way.
In August Apple hired back senior Tesla executive Doug Field, and in December it poached senior Tesla engineer Andrew Kim, prompting speculation that it was ratcheting up. According to CNBC, the layoffs this week were billed internally as a restructure under the new execs.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced earlier this month that the company was laying off more than 3,000 employees. Business Insider contacted Apple to ask whether it planned to employ any of the ex-Tesla workers.
Apple did not provide further comment beyond what it told CNBC.