As a unique, prestigious brand, Apple has always focused on highly ambitious projects, but it has not always succeeded. The Apple car is far from showing promise given that the company has failed to retain key engineering talent and many members of Project Titan have been reassigned, as Bloomberg reported Monday.
The team working on the project has been given a deadline of late 2017 before Apple decides whether to go further and develop its own vehicle or partner up with an existing automaker. An insider told Bloomberg that top leaders have failed to agree on fundamental issues about the project. In the past few months, the company has been closer to making specifically an autonomous driving system rather than a complete car. This gives Apple a chance to partner with existing carmakers.
Last year, managers were struggling to reach common strategies and the car’s direction was uncertain. Some wanted to focus on hardware, which is one of the company’s strengths, while others wanted the product to focus on self-driving software.
As a consequence, more than 120 software engineers were tossed last month as they were testing procedures. Additionally, hundreds of hardware engineers whose work focused on suspension, chassis, and undercarriage left the company.
In 2014, the Apple car project started and one of its main goals was to retain highly-qualified engineers who may have been more interested in working on such an ambitious projects rather than adding new features to existing products.
Although Apple has been hiring new people to try to keep the Titan team’s numbers steady, the fact that many members of this crew are leaving the company only means that Project Titan could not achieve this key objective.
One of the obstacles Apple is facing has to do with assembling a supply chain for automotive parts, which is much more challenging than what employees are used to in computer or smartphone production, according to a report by Apple Insider.
One thing is exerting heavy control over supplies for the iPhone, but auto parts makers may be more reluctant to take the risk of committing to an Apple car due to the significantly higher expenses.
Apple hasn’t given up in spite of the obstacles
Steve Zadesky, the former project leader, left earlier this year and senior VP of Hardware Engineering Dan Riccio took over his role. The control was then handed to Bob Mansfield in April. He reportedly announced in May the new Titan strategy and hundreds of Titan employees learned that day about the decision to avoid direct competition with Tesla.
The automaker is already offering electric cars and is extensively working on its self-driving systems. Project Titan initially aimed at producing electric cars to be delivered by 2019 or 2020.
Apart from self-driving code, the remaining members of Project Titan are reportedly working on sensors and simulators to be tested in the real world. There is also a team of regulatory experts working on how to cope with regulations in the car industry.
Source: Apple Insider