Apple has dismissed more than 200 employees from Project Titan, its secretive self-driving car unit, as the business undergoes some restructuring under its new management.
The dismissals were first reported by CNBC. It comes after Apple hired a Doug Field, a former veteran of the firm and the former vice president of engineering of Tesla, to lead the project alongside Bob Mansfield in 2018.
A spokesperson for Apple confirmed the said move, stating: “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.”
He added: “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.”
Last summer, it was revealed that as many as 5,000 employees were either working on Project Titan or had access to its details. It was revealed when a former staff member was arrested for allegedly stealing some trade secrets from the tech giant.
In a complaint to authorities in the United States, Apple also revealed some further technical information regarding the project. The firm said that Xiaolang Zhang had been shown a “proprietary chip” by the employees and was working on circuit boards that could have been part of a sensor fusion project. The project involves using multiple sensors to make the cars more accurate in their decisions while in their self-driving mode.
The existence o the entire project was kept as a secret until late 2016 when Apple wrote a letter to US regulators requesting them not to restrict testing of autonomous vehicles. The company received a permit to test the cars on the streets of California in 2018 and had its first road accident near its headquarters in Silicon Valley last August.