Apple has laid off just over 200 employees from its top-secret autonomous car technology development programme, amid reports the project is being restructured.
Furthermore, other Apple employees are expected to be diverted from the programme, codenamed Project Titan, to other departments within the company.
An Apple spokesperson told American news channel CNBC: “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.
“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.”
Apple re-hired ex-Tesla engineer Doug Field in 2019, and poached a number of other employees as well from the American electric car manufacturer.
For a long time, Apple refused to confirm or deny whether or not it was working on a car, until CEO Tim Cook confirmed in 2017 that plans to build an autonomous car had been abandoned.
The reported reason for this was some employees wanted to build a fully autonomous car, while others thought it would be better to develop a semi-autonomous vehicle, with the debate causing the project to be severely delayed.
Since then, the company launched Project Titan, with which Apple is not aiming to build its own car but is instead looking to develop autonomous vehicle technology.
Cook told Bloomberg in 2017 that autonomous vehicle technology was “a core technology that we view as very important”, but at the same time was “probably one of the most difficult projects to work on”.
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