Technology giant Apple has cut around a fifth of the staff working on its secretive autonomous car project, Project Titan.
More than 200 members of the 1,000-strong team have left Apple or been moved to other divisions, despite autonomous transportation technologies being a key focus for the company.
Following reports of the layoffs, broadcast initially by CNBC, an Apple spokesperson responded with a statement, stressing that the company still sees opportunities in autonomous transportation: “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.”
The spokesperson said: “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.”
In the five years since its launch, Project Titan has seen several changes in leadership and direction. Initially led by Steve Zadesky, who headed up the teams that developed the original iPod and iPhone, it has been under the leadership of veteran Apple executive Bob Mansfield since 2016. Former Tesla engineer Doug Field has been involved since last year, prompting speculation that the project was working toward developing a complete car rather than simply coming up with systems and software for car manufacturers.