According to a new report out from Bloomberg today, multiple engineers who had been working on Apple’s car project have left for automotive startup Zoox. The Project Titan employees have made their departure from Apple as the company scales back its autonomous vehicle program.
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The report from Bloomberg indicates that a total of 17 engineers have left, some of whom had come from Detroit’s automotive industry. Members of the exodus specialized in “designing elements present in both traditional and autonomous vehicles”.
Earlier last year, Project Titan’s leader Steve Zadesky left the company for “personal reasons” (and has since returned in a different role). Before Apple, Zadesky was at Ford as an engineer and was asked to triple the automotive team size at Apple to 600 employees.
In a previous interview, Apple CEO Tim Cook stated that the company was focusing on “autonomous systems” as they saw it as “the mother of all AI projects“. Bloomberg reports that this technology could eventually be licensed out to automakers or that Apple might even resurrect pursuits of building out its own car in the future.
The New York Times previously detailed how Apple has scaled back Project Titan and what brought it to where it is today. After everything it has done, it seems Apple has settled on its project being more in line with what Google’s Waymo and Uber are pursuing and passing on creating an autonomous vehicle product.
The company that Apple’s vehicle engineers have departed to, Zoox, is focused on building out autonomous technologies itself. The company remains in stealth mode but has raised $290 million in funding to support its endeavors.
Zoox made a significant hire earlier this year when they picked up the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Mark Rosekind. According to Reuters, the hire shows the importance regulation will play in Zoox’s driving technology.