Apple has recently picked up one of Tesla’s senior designers, Andrew Kim. After spending two years at the automaker working on design for many Tesla vehicles, even unreleased models, Kim is now continuing his design work on undisclosed projects at Apple.
After spending three years in design at Microsoft, most recently working on the company’s HoloLens, Andrew Kim left for Tesla in 2016. He worked on about all of the company’s vehicles, including the upcoming Model Y, next-gen Roadster, and Tesla Semi.
Last week, Kim shared on Instagram about his first day at Apple with his title on LinkedIn set as “Designer.” For the last couple of years, Apple’s focus has shifted from building its own autonomous vehicle to building an autonomous vehicle system. CEO Tim Cook shared this in an interview last year:
We’re focusing on autonomous systems, and clearly one purpose of autonomous systems is self-driving cars. There are others, and we sort of see it as the mother of all AI projects.
A couple of months later, a New York Times piece reported that Apple’s big car effort, Project Titan, had shifted to more or less building a CarOS for other automakers to use.
However, the news that Andrew Kim has joined Apple may reignite speculation that Apple is working on its own vehicle after all. As noted by The Verge, Kim’s work included designing the interior of the Tesla Model 3:
Kim said that his focus at Tesla was on designing the cabin space inside the Model 3, a challenge that had to balance the needs of a car that could be driven by both a human and, eventually, a computer.
With Kim’s background and Apple also bringing back Doug Field from Tesla to work with Bob Mansfiled on Project Titan, there could be some new developments or changes for Apple’s auto plans.
However, with Kim’s background at Microsoft on HoloLens, he could be focusing on Apple’s in-progress smart glasses that could arrive in 2020 or another similar AR project.