Apple confirms layoff of 190 people from self-driving car project

Posted:
in Future Apple Hardware
Apple on Wednesday confirmed plans to lay off 190 people from its self-driving car project, known as Project Titan, namely from facilities in Santa Clara and Sunnyvale, Calif.

Project Titan
An older version of Apple's self-driving test bed.


Most of the impacted workers are engineers, according to a filing with the California Employment Development Department seen by the San Francisco Chronicle and subsequently verified by Apple spokesman Tom Neumayr. That includes 38 engineering program managers, 33 hardware engineers, 31 product design engineers, and 22 software engineers.

The layoffs will take effect on Apr. 16, and are said to affect eight office and industrial properties first uncovered by AppleInsider in 2015: 3000 Kifer Road, 3689 Kifer Road, 5301 Patrick Henry Drive, 2945 San Ysidro Way, and 2975 San Ysidro Way in Santa Clara, and 1150 Kifer Road, 1170 Kifer Road and 195 N. Wolfe Road in Sunnyvale. The two towns are connected and not far from Apple Park in Cupertino.

Over 200 people were dismissed in January this year. At least some of those people were moved to other parts of Apple -- it's not clear if the same triage is being repeated.

Even less certain is what the layoffs could mean for Project Titan. While the company has been testing on California roads, its ultimate goals for the initiative are nebulous. While it could be developing a full-fledged vehicle, Apple might also be working on a platform for third parties.

Most recently a German report claimed that Apple might be designing an electric van rather than a sedan or compact. In any case, nothing is expected to go on sale until at least 2023.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 40
    Well, I guess that's that.
    boxcatcherflyingdp
  • Reply 2 of 40
    I guess that will save about $30million/yr in salaries. Hire some more people to the Siri team to finally catch up with Amazon/Google.
    boxcatcherflyingdpatomic101tokyojimu1983
  • Reply 3 of 40
    From reading the source article from the SF Chronicle, it seems this is the same layoff we heard about last month, only now officially submitted to the state. This AI article makes it sound like it's an additional set of layoffs.

    "The layoffs were disclosed, along with new details, in a letter this month to the California Employment Development Department. CNBC reported last month that layoffs were occurring in the self-driving car division, known as Project Titan. Tom Neumayr, an Apple spokesman, confirmed that the letter to the state referenced the same layoffs."

    lolliverapplesnorangesn2itivguyStrangeDays
  • Reply 4 of 40
    At this point, one can't be faulted for believing that this project seems to have all the markers of -- and same fate as -- the AppleTV and a TV by Apple...
    edited February 27 boxcatchermuthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 5 of 40
    Project Titan was a “me too” project.  

    Everyone is working on the self driving car, but the technology isn’t there yet.  Apple isn’t really in the business of inventing the hardware...

    If Apple was one of the top companies in self driving, that would be different.  But with companies like GM (automakers) doing so much better (than Apple) it’s kind of a waste of resources.

    I would like to see what AR assisted driving would look like, it wouldn’t surprise me if Apple shifted resources in that direction.  It would be very handy if Apple could project where the lanes are in poor weather.  I remember there was talk of implanting markers in the roads years ago...
    DAalsethravnorodomasdasd
  • Reply 6 of 40
    AppleExposedAppleExposed Posts: 1,503unconfirmed, member
    Project Titan was a “me too” project.  

    Everyone is working on the self driving car, but the technology isn’t there yet.  Apple isn’t really in the business of inventing the hardware...

    If Apple was one of the top companies in self driving, that would be different.  But with companies like GM (automakers) doing so much better (than Apple) it’s kind of a waste of resources.

    You're so wrong it's disgusting.

    Apple has been working on this before the self-driving bandwagon. Far from "me too".

    Also you and neither of us here can say who's doing better than Apple when we have no idea what they've done or what they're doing.

    Apple could have released a crappy car 3 years ago as a "me too" project but it's far from that and Apple only releases polished products.
    lolliverStrangeDays
  • Reply 7 of 40
    Titan, from what limited info we have, always seemed like a wonky initiative for Apple.
    edited February 27 asdasd1983
  • Reply 8 of 40
    At this point, one can't be faulted for believing that this project seems to have all the markers of -- and same fate as -- the AppleTV and a TV by Apple...
    That Project Titan is just “a hobby”?
    muthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 9 of 40
    Projects like this are fine when the money comes in like water. But when there's a downturn, even a slight one like last December, it's time to reevaluate. Is it likely to yield a profit in a reasonable timeline? If not, over the side it goes. Apple will likely keep some part of it going at minimal cost, just to be able to intigrate with others systems, but the idea of an AppleCar is not going to happen (IMO it never was. At most this woiuld have been a system installed on other people's cars. Like CarPlay is now.)
    ravnorodom
  • Reply 10 of 40
    At this point, one can't be faulted for believing that this project seems to have all the markers of -- and same fate as -- the AppleTV and a TV by Apple...
    That Project Titan is just “a hobby”?
    Yep. And something that was a gleam in Jobs’s eyes that his successors have not been able to implement well. 
    SpamSandwichmuthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 11 of 40
    Project Titan was a “me too” project.  

    Everyone is working on the self driving car, but the technology isn’t there yet.  Apple isn’t really in the business of inventing the hardware...

    If Apple was one of the top companies in self driving, that would be different.  But with companies like GM (automakers) doing so much better (than Apple) it’s kind of a waste of resources.

    You're so wrong it's disgusting.

    Apple has been working on this before the self-driving bandwagon. Far from "me too".

    Also you and neither of us here can say who's doing better than Apple when we have no idea what they've done or what they're doing.

    Apple could have released a crappy car 3 years ago as a "me too" project but it's far from that and Apple only releases polished products.
    From AppleInsider
    Fresh statistics from California's Department of Motor Vehicles reveals Apple's self-driving car testbed as the worst performing system on the road in terms of disengagements, or instances when the vehicle is forced to exit autonomous mode and return control to a human pilot.”

    From December 2018 through November 2019, Apple's fleet of heavily modified Lexus RX450h SUVs recorded an average of 871.65 disengagements for every 1,000 miles traveled, putting the company in last place among 28 firms testing autonomous vehicles on California roads.”

    On the other end of the spectrum was Google's Waymo, which managed an impressive 0.09 disengagements per 1,000 miles, or one disengagement every 11,154 miles, over the same period. GM Cruise vehicles were able to log an average of 5,204 miles between disengagements”

    Last time I checked 871.65 vs. 0.09 disengagements per 1,000 miles is really really terrible.  Now... we can probably make up some excuses, but the fact Project Titan is under new management, and the fact this isn’t the first time hundreds of employees have been layer off.  I think anyone can do the math on how the project is going. 

    As for the project being “me too”..

    Google's development of self-driving technology began in January 17, 2009[3]at the company's secretive X lab run by co-founder Sergey Brin.”

    VS

    “The [Project Titan] project was rumored to be approved by Apple CEO Tim Cook in late 2014 and assigned to Vice President Steve Zadesky, a former Ford engineer as project in-charge.”

    Pretty much everyone (including Qualcomm) is working self-driving cars.  Raise your hand if you want to be a passenger in a self-driving car in the snow or heavy rain.  I think the answer is “hell no!” for at least another decade.  Apple can do consider innovation in the auto space, but they’re burning cash for no reason (with self driving cars).  That’s my conclusion, at it looks like that’s the conclusion on management.

    By the way, nobody still thinks Apple is still working on building a “car”.  There’s no evidence that was ever their goal... they’re using Lexus’s in their testing.
    edited March 2 ravnorodomDAalsethmuthuk_vanalingamanantksundaram
  • Reply 12 of 40
    38 managers? That is at least 33 too many. I'm sure that a lot of it was redundant. I like cutting the fat.
    lolliver
  • Reply 13 of 40
    There has been considerable evidence that Apple plans include an actual car. They hired quite a few people specifically from the car manufacturing industry who were in manufacturing. 

    Now...

    That at doesn’t mean Apple was / is planning to manufacture a car. We don’t know. But there has been evidence. 

    As for Apple’s abilities in this space, no one outside of  Apple knows where they’re at. To state they are not capable, others are better or worse, or not working on something is folly. No different than that claim so many years ago about their ability to design and sell a phone. When we don’t know something, it comes across as ridiculous to state otherwise with total confidence. 
    lolliver
  • Reply 14 of 40
    At this point, one can't be faulted for believing that this project seems to have all the markers of -- and same fate as -- the AppleTV and a TV by Apple...
    That Project Titan is just “a hobby”?
    Not entirely “a hobby” but Cook’s interest probably started on self-driving cars after developing Apple Maps and creating CarPlay, and talking to car manufacturers.  Apple’s strength is interface design, and making things user friendly.  Self-driving cars isn’t that...

    Apple probably thought “we’re a software company, we can do this better”.  The problem is auto companies have a lot more experience with the problems facing drivers, like road conditions, legislation, etc.

    Google also had a 5-6 year head start on Apple. Google has extensive experience with AI and “big data” so they had an advantage over everyone.  Remember how terrible Siri was?  That’s the same kind of thing.  It’s taken a lot of time and resources at Apple to make it decent.

    We don’t really know what Apple’s “end game” is with Project Titan.  Going from car count, GM is allocating considerately more resources.  They have something like 4x more vehicles on the road... so, to some extent Apple’s efforts are comparably “a hobby”.

    I think Project Titan will put self-driving cars on the back burner, but keep an autos focus.  I think AR while driving is intriguing, and could be more immediately useful.  I think Apple wants drivers using CarPlay + Maps (revenue stream), and AR providers better synergy to what GM (for example) is doing.
    ravnorodomanantksundaram
  • Reply 15 of 40
    AppleExposedAppleExposed Posts: 1,503unconfirmed, member
    Project Titan was a “me too” project.  

    Everyone is working on the self driving car, but the technology isn’t there yet.  Apple isn’t really in the business of inventing the hardware...

    If Apple was one of the top companies in self driving, that would be different.  But with companies like GM (automakers) doing so much better (than Apple) it’s kind of a waste of resources.

    You're so wrong it's disgusting.

    Apple has been working on this before the self-driving bandwagon. Far from "me too".

    Also you and neither of us here can say who's doing better than Apple when we have no idea what they've done or what they're doing.

    Apple could have released a crappy car 3 years ago as a "me too" project but it's far from that and Apple only releases polished products.
    Hello Apple fanboy,

    From AppleInsider
    ”Fresh statistics from California's Department of Motor Vehicles reveals Apple's self-driving car testbed as the worst performing system on the road in terms of disengagements, or instances when the vehicle is forced to exit autonomous mode and return control to a human pilot.”

    ”From December 2018 through November 2019, Apple's fleet of heavily modified Lexus RX450h SUVs recorded an average of 871.65 disengagements for every 1,000 miles traveled, putting the company in last place among 28 firms testing autonomous vehicles on California roads.”

    “On the other end of the spectrum was Google's Waymo, which managed an impressive 0.09 disengagements per 1,000 miles, or one disengagement every 11,154 miles, over the same period. GM Cruise vehicles were able to log an average of 5,204 miles between disengagements”

    Last time I checked 871.65 vs. 0.09 disengagements per 1,000 miles is really really terrible.  Now... we can probably make up some excuses, but the fact Project Titan is under new management, and the fact this isn’t the first time hundreds of employees have been layer off.  I think anyone can do the math on how the project is going. 

    As for the project being “me too”..

    ”Google's development of self-driving technology began in January 17, 2009[3]at the company's secretive X lab run by co-founder Sergey Brin.”

    VS

    “The [Project Titan] project was rumored to be approved by Apple CEO Tim Cook in late 2014 and assigned to Vice President Steve Zadesky, a former Ford engineer as project in-charge.”

    Pretty much everyone (including Qualcomm) is working self-driving cars.  Raise your hand if you want to be a passenger in a self-driving car in the snow or heavy rain.  I think the answer is “hell no!” for at least another decade.  Apple can do consider innovation in the auto space, but they’re burning cash for no reason (with self driving cars).  That’s my conclusion, at it looks like that’s the conclusion on management.

    By the way, nobody still thinks Apple is still working on building a “car”.  There’s no evidence that was ever their goal... they’re using Lexus’s in their testing.

    Another moron who calls you a "fanboy" when presented with facts.

    NONE of what you posted disproves what I said.

    Try again.
    StrangeDays
  • Reply 16 of 40
    AppleExposedAppleExposed Posts: 1,503unconfirmed, member

    focher said:
    There has been considerable evidence that Apple plans include an actual car. They hired quite a few people specifically from the car manufacturing industry who were in manufacturing. 

    Now...

    That at doesn’t mean Apple was / is planning to manufacture a car. We don’t know. But there has been evidence. 

    As for Apple’s abilities in this space, no one outside of  Apple knows where they’re at. To state they are not capable, others are better or worse, or not working on something is folly. No different than that claim so many years ago about their ability to design and sell a phone. When we don’t know something, it comes across as ridiculous to state otherwise with total confidence. 

    Well we do know Apple is the only company Tesla feared. All that trash talk reminded me of IBM/Blackberry/Pebble. It was the first sign Apple was working on something huge.

    I don't think Apple will pump billions into something and working since 2009(earliest WE know) only to toss it away.
  • Reply 17 of 40
    chasmchasm Posts: 1,667member
    I don't have any insider sources on this or anything, but this seems to me like the perfectly-ordinary end of one of the projects within the larger scope of the entire effort. While it certainly could mark a change in direction or a failed experiment within Titan, it could also simply be the "we've finished the prototype of what we plan to do" stage, and thus trimming the team that was responsible for that portion of things.

    To put this another way: the number of engineers working on Apple TV these days isn't the same number that worked on it during its first three iterations.
  • Reply 18 of 40
    k2kwk2kw Posts: 1,802member
    Project Titan was a “me too” project.  

    Everyone is working on the self driving car, but the technology isn’t there yet.  Apple isn’t really in the business of inventing the hardware...

    If Apple was one of the top companies in self driving, that would be different.  But with companies like GM (automakers) doing so much better (than Apple) it’s kind of a waste of resources.

    You're so wrong it's disgusting.

    Apple has been working on this before the self-driving bandwagon. Far from "me too".

    Also you and neither of us here can say who's doing better than Apple when we have no idea what they've done or what they're doing.

    Apple could have released a crappy car 3 years ago as a "me too" project but it's far from that and Apple only releases polished products.
    Hilarious.   Warren Buffet has spoken and Cook is finally wising up to shut down the black hole called Titan.  Money goes in nothing comes out.
    muthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 19 of 40
    MplsPMplsP Posts: 1,651member
    Wait... if they lay everybody off, who's going to take over to drive the car when the autopilot shuts off?  :p

    There's very little hard data on project Titan, but I think it's safe to say that self driving cars are not something you can 'dabble' in. You either need to be prepared to make a major commitment or stay out of the game. This report makes it look like Apple has decided to get out of the game. That's fine by me - a self driving car by Apple would have been cool, but it's really not their forte, and I don't think the company is any worse off not having one.


    muthuk_vanalingamtokyojimu
  • Reply 20 of 40
    These layoffs don't mean the end of project Titan. Far from it actually. If you go back last year and see the criminal complaint filed against the Chinese national busted for stealing project Titan secrets, it showed almost 5,000 Apple employees are involved with the project. 
    monstrosityStrangeDays
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