The scope of Apple’s ‘Project Titan’ has reportedly been scaled back from an industry changing self-driving electric car to an autonomous vehicle platform, which will be sold to other car makers.
A detailed new report from Bloomberg details the recent goings on at Apple’s top secret ‘Project Titan’, including upheaval in the management ranks and a mass exodus of engineers.
An unidentified source has told the business publication that hundreds of employees assigned to the project have either been let go, reallocated elsewhere in the company, or walked. Another source says that head count has been kept roughly the same thanks to new members joining from elsewhere within Apple.
Originally conceived in 2014 as a revolutionary electric vehicle with either a semi-autonomous or fully autonomous driving system, the project has now been scaled back to a self-driving car platform that will be on-sold or licensed out.
Project leaders have reportedly been given a deadline of the end of 2017 to prove the architecture’s viability, and to outline a case for further progress.
Above: Apple ‘Project Titan’ test mule.
Battles about the project’s direction — whether it should be a complete car or just a platform — began surfacing in 2015, and came to the fore this year.
Steve Zadesky, formerly an engineer at Ford, headed up ‘Project Titan’ until early 2016 when he was effectively replaced by Bob Mansfield, who was brought out of semi-retirement and was involved in the development of the first-generation iPad.
The issues reportedly encountered by Apple during the time when ‘Project Titan’ was envisioned as a challenger to the Tesla Model S included the complex regulatory environment, and difficulties in accepting the low margin nature of the automobile market.
Another key problem was the automotive supply chain. Bloomberg believes that suppliers were unwilling to commit to delivering low quantities of highly specialised parts to Apple. Unlike their counterparts in the tech world, they couldn’t be bullied into lowering costs or offering exclusive access.
MORE: Apple automotive news