After huge amounts of drama, the maker of a modified Android distribution CyanogenMod has pivoted to self-driving cars.
Cyngn (formerly Cyanogen) raised $115 million to make CyanogenMod, essentially a version of Android for power users who liked lots of customisation options for their devices. It was billed as superior to stock Android. But it abandoned that project at the end of last year and now has a brand new site with the tagline “The edge of autonomy.”
There isn’t much further explanation, but a browse through Cyngn’s jobs page shows it is hiring at least one autonomous driving engineer in Singapore, and a bunch of autonomous system engineers in Palo Alto, California. The company has received a licence to test self-driving cars in California, according to Axios.
It also looks like Cyngn has beefed up its staff accordingly. LinkedIn profiles show the company has spent the last six months hiring machine learning specialists, including several from Mercedes’ self-driving vehicle arm.
At its peak, there were reportedly millions of devices running on CyanogenMod. The company was founded by Steve Kondik and Kirt McMaster, and caused a stir with its stated goal of putting “a bullet through Google’s head” with its take on Android. But there were signs of trouble in the middle of last year when McMaster, then CEO, denied reports of a pivot following layoffs. He was out as CEO by October, and relegated to the position of executive chairman.
Kondik left the company in December, blaming McMaster for Cyanogen’s failings. COO Lior Tal took over as chief executive.
CyanogenMod still exists as an Android fork, to an extent, but doesn’t get any updates from Google. But associated developers split off from the project to create a successor, LineageOS, which began releasing its first builds in January.