Doug Field returns to Apple's 'Project Titan' after stint at Tesla

Posted:
in General Discussion edited August 10
Doug Field, who previously worked as a vice president of Mac hardware engineering at Apple, has returned to the Cupertino tech giant after a nearly five-year stint at Tesla to work on the company's secretive automotive initiative.




Citing his usual "birdies," blogger John Gruber reported on Field's return to the Apple fold on Thursday, saying the hire -- or rehire -- was confirmed by company spokesman Tom Neumayr.

According to Gruber, Field is now working under Bob Mansfield on Apple's "Project Titan" autonomous car initiative. Mansfield, previously Apple's SVP of hardware engineering, assumed control of Titan in 2016 after former project lead Steve Zadesky left the company for "personal reasons."

Beyond Tesla, Field has extensive knowledge in the transportation technology business having worked as Segway's chief technology officer prior to joining Apple in 2008. Before that, Field served as a vehicle development engineer and team leader at Ford Motor Company, then led prototype design and technical leadership at DEKA Research & Development.

Apple's work on a fully autonomous vehicle is somewhat of an open secret in the tech world. Starting in 2014, reports of an "Apple Car" began to proliferate, with sources claiming the tech giant planned to build an in-house designed vehicle from the ground up. The company reportedly went so far as to begin preliminary discussions to build an automotive plant in the U.S. before realizing such an undertaking was more onerous than initially thought.

As part of its constantly evolving project, Apple sought manufacturing partnerships with established carmakers like BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Nissan, McLaren, Magna Steyr and China's BYD Auto, but negotiations bore no fruit. Internally, Apple's car team at one point counted well over 1,000 employees among its ranks, with specialists in automotive hardware to software focusing on a rethinking of the automobile. Efforts went far beyond self-driving systems, with employees investigating designs that included motorized doors, a globe-shaped steering wheel and other exotic features.

AppleInsider sources said the ambitious undertaking began to unravel as disagreements between team leaders like former project lead Steve Zadesky and top executives took root. Once Mansfield took control of Titan, he whittled the team down to necessary personnel as the project refocused on software and supporting solutions.

The initiative is said to have a renewed emphasis on autonomous systems, with a near term goal of launching a self-driving shuttle that ferries employees between Apple's California campuses. PAIL, or Palo Alto to Infinite Loop, will reportedly use specially outfitted Volkswagen's T6 Transporter vans as a platform for Apple's tech package.

Field's return sparks hope that Apple could still hold bold ambitions for Titan. Beyond the hire, however, there is little evidence that the company is chasing the likes of Tesla with the same vigor as it did just two years ago. For now, it appears the company is content to develop integrated systems, perhaps baby steps on the way to a game-changing consumer innovation.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 44
    tmaytmay Posts: 3,206member
    "chasing the likes of Tesla".

    Okay, if I can't say anything nice about Tesla, I shouldn't say anything at all, but kudos to Doug for leaving Tesla with his soul intact.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 44
    larryjwlarryjw Posts: 262member
    Tesla is on it's last legs. There is no reason to chase Tesla, especially Apple. 
    Avieshekwatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 44
    claire1claire1 Posts: 478unconfirmed, member
    "Apple is the Tesla graveyard"
    Remember those words? I wonder what he thinks of this rehire? His graveyard comment makes less sense as time goes on.

    The problem with secret projects is, employees can move around companies like it's no big deal. This rehire doesn't help Apples secret projects secrecy either.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 44
    So after his stint spying for Tesla and learning all their secrets he returns to Apple with the motherlode.

    Wait, he was gone 5 years? It should have only taken him a day, given how little IP there is at Tesla. 
    Avieshek[Deleted User]gilly017watto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 44
    So after his stint spying for Tesla and learning all their secrets he returns to Apple with the motherlode.

    Wait, he was gone 5 years? It should have only taken him a day, given how little IP there is at Tesla. 



    The Mole!

    Avieshek[Deleted User]brakkenwatto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 44
    digitoldigitol Posts: 100member
     Apple and Tesla actually have  pretty good relationship. In fact a majority of Tesla owners use iPhone. You will find that the iPhone works better with Tesla, than any other phone/brand. Tesla is a great company, that actually manufacturers and designs their products in USA. More specifically California, Michigan(Detroit), and Nevada. Many X Apple Engineers have but 1000's of hours into the Tesla. The Tesla UI was done by many of the iPad team engineers. So really if you don't support Tesla you are in a way downing Apple, and further downing true "made in the usa" companies. So in short, if you don't like apple&Tesla, you are a terrorist. :smiley:  
    edited August 10
  • Reply 7 of 44
    claire1claire1 Posts: 478unconfirmed, member
    digitol said:
     Apple and Tesla actually have  pretty good relationship. In fact a majority of Tesla owners use iPhone. 
    Instead of the Tesla phone?
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 44
    brakkenbrakken Posts: 675member
    In other news, the Supreme Allied Commander of Super Secrecy has indirectly hinted at a meeting with undisclosed details regarding the possiblity that perhaps Apple’s mystery “Titan” labelled project, if it were to be progressing with or without Volkswagen, may be suffering too much public attention. There shaln’t be any further detials at 11!
  • Reply 9 of 44
    FatmanFatman Posts: 169member
    There must have been a non compete in place... and he is that good that Apple is willing to risk a pay off. This hire plus the recent news of the Chinese employee stealing Apple’s secret plans all point to the possibility of my next car being an Apple product.
    watto_cobraclaire1
  • Reply 10 of 44
    ronmgronmg Posts: 163member
    brakken said:
    In other news, the Supreme Allied Commander of Super Secrecy has indirectly hinted at a meeting with undisclosed details regarding the possiblity that perhaps Apple’s mystery “Titan” labelled project, if it were to be progressing with or without Volkswagen, may be suffering too much public attention. There shaln’t be any further detials at 11!
    Wait. Isn't this top security? Well, shouldn't we activate the cone of silence?
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 44
    MacProMacPro Posts: 17,717member
    I bet it was al agreed, part of the joint plan and the so-called spat between Tesla and Apple was a cover-up.  Maybe Apple is the secret sugar daddy for Musk going private?  OK, I haven't had my coffee yet ;)


    irelandwatto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 44
    My guess is Field was brought back so Mansfield can retire. Apparently he’s tried to retire twice. But bringing him back and hiring someone from Google’s Waymo project tells me this project isn’t just about software but an actual vehicle. What if Apple was designing its own autonomous/self driving vehicles to support a new ride-sharing service?
    larryjwclaire1
  • Reply 13 of 44
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 30,076member
    MacPro said:
    I bet it was al agreed, part of the joint plan and the so-called spat between Tesla and Apple was a cover-up.  Maybe Apple is the secret sugar daddy for Musk going private?  OK, I haven't had my coffee yet ;)


    The Saudis are the ones providing Musk with billions to go private, if it’s approved.
    irelandwatto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 44
    DAalsethDAalseth Posts: 295member
    My guess is Field was brought back so Mansfield can retire. Apparently he’s tried to retire twice. But bringing him back and hiring someone from Google’s Waymo project tells me this project isn’t just about software but an actual vehicle. What if Apple was designing its own autonomous/self driving vehicles to support a new ride-sharing service?
    I was just thinking the same thing. Apple is one of the few organizations that could bankroll Musk's bid. Apple and Tesla's systems would work well together. Plus while apple has a software platform, Tesla actually builds a car. That was always the problem with all this talk of an Apple Car. Apple has no knowledge or experience making things like doors or windshields or drivetrains. Tesla does. add Apple Software to Tesla's software and you'd have something fantastic.

    MacPro said:
    I bet it was al agreed, part of the joint plan and the so-called spat between Tesla and Apple was a cover-up.  Maybe Apple is the secret sugar daddy for Musk going private?  OK, I haven't had my coffee yet ;)


    The Saudis are the ones providing Musk with billions to go private, if it’s approved.
    After the conniption fit the Saudis are having with Canada, I think a lot of people and companies around the world are having second thoughts about dealing with them. They may have deep pockets but those pockets are in a pair of crazypants. I don't think you can trust them not to do something stupid. I would not take money from them if there was any other option. Too many possible strings. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 15 of 44
    rogifan_newrogifan_new Posts: 3,391member
    DAalseth said:
    My guess is Field was brought back so Mansfield can retire. Apparently he’s tried to retire twice. But bringing him back and hiring someone from Google’s Waymo project tells me this project isn’t just about software but an actual vehicle. What if Apple was designing its own autonomous/self driving vehicles to support a new ride-sharing service?
    I was just thinking the same thing. Apple is one of the few organizations that could bankroll Musk's bid. Apple and Tesla's systems would work well together. Plus while apple has a software platform, Tesla actually builds a car. That was always the problem with all this talk of an Apple Car. Apple has no knowledge or experience making things like doors or windshields or drivetrains. Tesla does. add Apple Software to Tesla's software and you'd have something fantastic.
    Apple has no experience creating the kind of software needed for automobiles either. CarPlay is not an autonomous/self driving vehicle software platform. I’d honestly trust Apple more building a car chassis than car software. But I don’t see them ever hooking up with Tesla because you don’t get Tesla you get Elon Musk. And sorry, Musk is no Jobs.
    tmay
  • Reply 16 of 44
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 19,315member
    DAalseth said:
    My guess is Field was brought back so Mansfield can retire. Apparently he’s tried to retire twice. But bringing him back and hiring someone from Google’s Waymo project tells me this project isn’t just about software but an actual vehicle. What if Apple was designing its own autonomous/self driving vehicles to support a new ride-sharing service?
    I was just thinking the same thing. Apple is one of the few organizations that could bankroll Musk's bid. Apple and Tesla's systems would work well together. Plus while apple has a software platform, Tesla actually builds a car. That was always the problem with all this talk of an Apple Car. Apple has no knowledge or experience making things like doors or windshields or drivetrains. Tesla does. add Apple Software to Tesla's software and you'd have something fantastic.
    Apple has no experience creating the kind of software needed for automobiles either. CarPlay is not an autonomous/self driving vehicle software platform. I’d honestly trust Apple more building a car chassis than car software. But I don’t see them ever hooking up with Tesla because you don’t get Tesla you get Elon Musk. And sorry, Musk is no Jobs.
    Yeah he's definitely been projecting some weirdness of late, especially so since his rather young side-ride hookup
  • Reply 17 of 44
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 5,819member
    DAalseth said:
    My guess is Field was brought back so Mansfield can retire. Apparently he’s tried to retire twice. But bringing him back and hiring someone from Google’s Waymo project tells me this project isn’t just about software but an actual vehicle. What if Apple was designing its own autonomous/self driving vehicles to support a new ride-sharing service?
    I was just thinking the same thing. Apple is one of the few organizations that could bankroll Musk's bid. Apple and Tesla's systems would work well together. Plus while apple has a software platform, Tesla actually builds a car. That was always the problem with all this talk of an Apple Car. Apple has no knowledge or experience making things like doors or windshields or drivetrains. Tesla does. add Apple Software to Tesla's software and you'd have something fantastic.
    Apple has no experience creating the kind of software needed for automobiles either. CarPlay is not an autonomous/self driving vehicle software platform. I’d honestly trust Apple more building a car chassis than car software. But I don’t see them ever hooking up with Tesla because you don’t get Tesla you get Elon Musk. And sorry, Musk is no Jobs.
    Who in the past 5-10 years had experience building software for autonomous vehicles before they started getting experience building software for autonomous vehicles?

    Learning by doing is a thing in emerging markets.
    edited August 10 watto_cobraclaire1
  • Reply 18 of 44
    rogifan_newrogifan_new Posts: 3,391member
    DAalseth said:
    My guess is Field was brought back so Mansfield can retire. Apparently he’s tried to retire twice. But bringing him back and hiring someone from Google’s Waymo project tells me this project isn’t just about software but an actual vehicle. What if Apple was designing its own autonomous/self driving vehicles to support a new ride-sharing service?
    I was just thinking the same thing. Apple is one of the few organizations that could bankroll Musk's bid. Apple and Tesla's systems would work well together. Plus while apple has a software platform, Tesla actually builds a car. That was always the problem with all this talk of an Apple Car. Apple has no knowledge or experience making things like doors or windshields or drivetrains. Tesla does. add Apple Software to Tesla's software and you'd have something fantastic.
    Apple has no experience creating the kind of software needed for automobiles either. CarPlay is not an autonomous/self driving vehicle software platform. I’d honestly trust Apple more building a car chassis than car software. But I don’t see them ever hooking up with Tesla because you don’t get Tesla you get Elon Musk. And sorry, Musk is no Jobs.
    Who in the past 5-10 years had experience building software for autonomous vehicles before they started getting experience building software for autonomous vehicles?

    Learning by doing is a thing in emerging markets.
    Agreed. Which is why I also say just because Apple doesn’t have prior experience building a car chassis doesn’t mean they can’t learn. Apple’s pretty good a building hardware and knows a thing or two about running large supply chains. What we do know is Apple’s MO is building the whole widget, not giving technology to someone else to put in their product. Honestly if Tesla can build a car certainly Apple can. It’s not like Musk had all this experience in the automotive field. 
  • Reply 19 of 44
    MacProMacPro Posts: 17,717member
    DAalseth said:
    My guess is Field was brought back so Mansfield can retire. Apparently he’s tried to retire twice. But bringing him back and hiring someone from Google’s Waymo project tells me this project isn’t just about software but an actual vehicle. What if Apple was designing its own autonomous/self driving vehicles to support a new ride-sharing service?
    I was just thinking the same thing. Apple is one of the few organizations that could bankroll Musk's bid. Apple and Tesla's systems would work well together. Plus while apple has a software platform, Tesla actually builds a car. That was always the problem with all this talk of an Apple Car. Apple has no knowledge or experience making things like doors or windshields or drivetrains. Tesla does. add Apple Software to Tesla's software and you'd have something fantastic.
    Apple has no experience creating the kind of software needed for automobiles either. CarPlay is not an autonomous/self driving vehicle software platform. I’d honestly trust Apple more building a car chassis than car software. But I don’t see them ever hooking up with Tesla because you don’t get Tesla you get Elon Musk. And sorry, Musk is no Jobs.
    Who in the past 5-10 years had experience building software for autonomous vehicles before they started getting experience building software for autonomous vehicles?

    Learning by doing is a thing in emerging markets.
    Agreed. Which is why I also say just because Apple doesn’t have prior experience building a car chassis doesn’t mean they can’t learn. Apple’s pretty good a building hardware and knows a thing or two about running large supply chains. What we do know is Apple’s MO is building the whole widget, not giving technology to someone else to put in their product. Honestly if Tesla can build a car certainly Apple can. It’s not like Musk had all this experience in the automotive field. 
    I can see it now, car milled from solid block of aluminum ...  ;)
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 20 of 44
    DAalsethDAalseth Posts: 295member
    DAalseth said:
    My guess is Field was brought back so Mansfield can retire. Apparently he’s tried to retire twice. But bringing him back and hiring someone from Google’s Waymo project tells me this project isn’t just about software but an actual vehicle. What if Apple was designing its own autonomous/self driving vehicles to support a new ride-sharing service?
    I was just thinking the same thing. Apple is one of the few organizations that could bankroll Musk's bid. Apple and Tesla's systems would work well together. Plus while apple has a software platform, Tesla actually builds a car. That was always the problem with all this talk of an Apple Car. Apple has no knowledge or experience making things like doors or windshields or drivetrains. Tesla does. add Apple Software to Tesla's software and you'd have something fantastic.
    Apple has no experience creating the kind of software needed for automobiles either. 
    What? Apple has been testing self driving car systems for a number of years now. They are looking at deploying self driving shuttles between their campuses. 
    As far as Musk not being a Jobs, SpaceX? Tesla? Musk has lots of really creative ideas and has pulled them off for the most part. No one is Steve Jobs. But Musk is daring, imaginative, creative and goes through with what he promises. Musk will go down with Jobs and Edison, and Ford and a lot of other major figures in this space.
    edited August 10 watto_cobraiqatedourahara
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