In Brief

Apple lays off 200 staff working on Project Titan autonomous car

Job losses are believed to be part of a restructuring under new leadership

Apple has laid off more than 200 employees who were working on its secretive autonomous car programme, Project Titan. 

Company insiders told US-based broadcaster CNBC that the job losses are believed to be part of a “restructuring” taking place under the new leadership of Doug Field, Tesla’s former senior vice-president of engineering, and Apple veteran Bob Mansfield. 

A spokesperson for the tech giant confirmed the lay-offs, but stressed that Apple still sees “huge opportunity with autonomous systems” and is committed to what it calls “the most ambitious machine learning project ever”.

“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. 

It is “unclear” whether all the employees will remain at Apple, or if some have been reassigned to new positions in the company while others have left the firm, says tech news site AppleInsider.

The news marks the second wave of staff cuts for Apple’s autonomous vehicle project, the website adds. 

In 2016, the Cupertino-based firm reportedly dismissed hundreds of Project Titan employees shortly after Mansfield was handed the reins of the programme.

Details of the project remain “a mystery”, notes The Verge.

It was originally believed that Apple was developing “both self-driving hardware and software”, before the company allegedly switched its focus to creating autonomous software that would be licensed to existing carmakers, the tech news site says.

There is a chance the tech firm may be shifting its focus to health-related technologies, an area that company chief Tim Cook believes will be Apple’s “greatest contribution to mankind”, 9to5Mac reports.

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