Apple's Self-Driving Car Project Laying Off Employees, Rethinking Development: Report

Apple is seriously rethinking its self-driving car plans and is laying off “dozens of employees,” according to a report from The New York Times.

According to the report, those briefed on the dozens of layoffs were told Apple’s self-driving car project is being “rebooted,” following the team working on the project struggling to find “what Apple could bring to a self-driving car that other companies could not.”

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From the NYT:

In a retrenchment of one of its most ambitious initiatives, Apple has shuttered parts of its self-driving car project and laid off dozens of employees, according to three people briefed on the move who were not allowed to speak about it publicly.

The job cuts are the latest sign of trouble with Apple’s car initiative. The company has added resources to the project — code-named Titan — over the last two years, but it has struggled to make progress. And in July, the company brought in Bob Mansfield, a highly regarded Apple veteran, to take over the effort.

With other companies like Google, Uber, and even General Motors making major public strides in the advancement of self-driving vehicles, perhaps Apple is taking a step back to reconsider its own project’s viability going forward.

Apple’s reported failures to strike deals with BMW and other automakers over disagreements with data control were a sign of trouble, as the tech company would have to make an unprecedented investment to develop and manufacture its own vehicle.

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It’s long been considered that Project Titan was aimed at developing the connectivity and user-interaction system that could then be marketed to traditional automakers manufacturing the self-driving vehicles, like an Apple CarPlay on steroids, though a recent report suggested it was still working on its own car.

That may no longer be the case.

According to the Times report, Apple does in fact already have self-driving vehicles field testing, but clearly the project’s current trajectory is being heavily reconsidered. With new project leadership under Apple veteran Bob Mansfield (the iPad guy) after the surprising loss of Steven Zadesky, perhaps Apple is taking a chance on salvaging what it can from the project before it’s too late.

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As far as issues go with the development of Apple’s self-driving car, how much longer will the company tolerate one more thing?

Reviews Editor, Jalopnik

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DISCUSSION

methylsulfonylmethane
Methylsulfonylmethane

Was this not the obvious conclusion from the very beginning?

Apple’s corporate culture is one of absolutely domineering vertical control over all aspects of production. You simply can’t build a car that way. You need to work with suppliers in a give-and-take relationship that is utterly foreign to Apple’s management. They are used to buying and bullying their way through supply problems, hammering down on any loose nails that give them trouble.

BMW isn’t Foxconn or some other no-name Chinese parts supplier. You can’t work with the likes of them the way Apple works with their regular partners. Their no-holds-barred attitude simply isn’t gonna fly with storied auto manufacturers who were producing world-beating products before Apple Computer was even a glimmer in Steve Jobs’s eye.

I can scarcely imagine the arrogant, dismissive, demanding attitude they must have had in their meetings with BMW and other automakers. Even if it could have been a profitable venture for them, the upper management of the car-makers would never tolerate that kind of bullshit. Apple made a push with their regular play and got slapped down hard.

“Fuck you buddy, let’s see your dumb ass try to build a car all on your own.”

Man, I would have loved to be a fly on the wall in those meetings.