Apple's AI and Siri chief John Giannandrea now overseeing Apple Car development

Posted:
in General Discussion edited December 2020
Apple has moved its Project Titan self-driving car division to fall under the leadership of artificial intelligence chief John Giannandrea, who also leads Apple's Siri and machine learning teams.

Credit: TechCrunch
Credit: TechCrunch


The "Apple Car" project is years in the making, and is said to be focused on the autonomous systems necessary for self-driving vehicles. It's run day-to-day by Doug Field, who previously reported to former Apple SVP of hardware engineering Bob Mansfield.

Now, Field and Project Titan will be under the purview of Giannandrea, officially Apple's senior vice president of AI and machine learning. The AI chief will now oversee development of autonomous vehicular systems that could someday be used in a physical Apple Car, Bloomberg reported.

Mansfield, the previous head of Project Titan, retired in 2012 but remained an advisor at Apple. He came out of retirement in 2016 to head the self-driving car division. Now, Mansfield is said to be fully retired, leading to the leadership switch.

In addition to the autonomous system development, Giannandrea's responsibilities also include heading up Siri development and the company's work on machine learning.

Prior to Giannandrea's 2018 hire, he had prior connections with Apple. Giannandrea's early AI work was done at Apple spin-off General Magic in the mid '90s prior to a move to Netscape. He is also believed to have been working on Google's self-driving car initiative in addition to his responsibilities with Google's search business.

Giannandrea joined Google as part of an acqui-hire from the purchase of Metaweb in 2010. Google eventually rolled the Metaweb product into its search results, but the buy greatly expanded Google's AI talent pool, growing the company's research dramatically.

Apple is thought to have started development of an "Apple Car" or related autonomous systems in 2014. Since then, Project Titan has been beset by restructurings and staff cuts, but the development has continued into 2020.

According to Bloomberg, Apple has weighed launching its own first-party vehicle, designing the autonomous systems for an automaker partner, or debuting an after-market kit that could be installed on different cars.

Back in 2018, Apple CEO Tim Cook confirmed that the Cupertino tech giant was working on "autonomous systems," though his comments suggested that the focus was on the software side. Since then, evidence has been mounting that Apple is still mulling the release of an actual, physical vehicle.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 17
    Please stop using that awful Motor Trend render.
    SpamSandwichGraeme000
  • Reply 2 of 17
    The AirPods max is out of my price range. The Apple Car will definitely be outside my economic range. 
    razorpit
  • Reply 3 of 17
    But he still hasn’t fixed Siri.

    This report makes no sense, unless the Apple Car unicorn really is going to only be software.
    edited December 2020 elijahgrazorpitpatchythepirateNotoriousDEV
  • Reply 4 of 17
    BeatsBeats Posts: 2,633member
    Kris2112 said:
    Please stop using that awful Motor Trend render.

    It's the only futuristic car since ever. All current electric vehicles look old and outdated.
  • Reply 5 of 17
    Tim Cook said they were focusing on "autonomous system", which he referred to as "the mother of all AI projects", it's beyond my imagination what that collection of technologies could be
  • Reply 6 of 17
    But he still hasn’t fixed Siri.

    This report makes no sense, unless the Apple Car unicorn really is going to only be software.
    Funny.  My reaction was "ok, now this is getting real."  They didn't hire this former-Google guru to work on stuff that won't see the light of day.
    tmaybyronl
  • Reply 7 of 17
    Kris2112 said:
    Please stop using that awful Motor Trend render.
    I whole-heartedly second that.
  • Reply 8 of 17
    blastdoorblastdoor Posts: 2,482member
    Kris2112 said:
    Please stop using that awful Motor Trend render.
    Ha ha :-) 

    Nah, they should keep using it until Apple actually releases something. Maybe seeing that fugly thing will inspire Apple to get something to market. 
  • Reply 9 of 17
    But he still hasn’t fixed Siri.

    This report makes no sense, unless the Apple Car unicorn really is going to only be software.
    Funny.  My reaction was "ok, now this is getting real."  They didn't hire this former-Google guru to work on stuff that won't see the light of day.
    I really shouldn’t comment too much on things which are entirely speculative, but that’s what most of this site is about, isn’t it?
    razorpit
  • Reply 10 of 17
    Beats said:
    Kris2112 said:
    Please stop using that awful Motor Trend render.

    It's the only futuristic car since ever. All current electric vehicles look old and outdated.
    /S?

    Tesla models are very aerodynamic, but look pretty generic. Most other in production EVs are similarly traditional (Form following Function - I drive a Bolt).

    Canoo is a big box - not sure how it efficient it would be on a freeway/highway.

    The Aptera looks fairly sci-fi, but I'm not sure how much usable space there is for shopping. It's only a two seater.
    NotoriousDEV
  • Reply 11 of 17
    The Apple Car is shaping up to be the new Apple TV. Remember that game-changer? Years of speculation, all ultimately leading to not an actual television at all, but an OTT box, which itself is on the road to extinction sooner than later, as its functionality should simply be licensed for inclusion in smart TVs. Who needs a separate box? Similarly, I find it hard to believe that an actual Apple car will ever emerge, and as the likes of Tesla, Google, GM and others keep refining their autonomous software, I'm wondering what innovation Apple will be able to bring that will justify its presence in the car business. That the guy in charge of Siri is now in charge of the car initiative doesn't exactly inspire confidence--almost a decade after it was introduced, Siri still sucks compared to other voice assistants, especially Alexa. And I say that as a devoted Mac guy since 1992. 
    edited December 2020 elijahgpatchythepirate
  • Reply 12 of 17
    razorpitrazorpit Posts: 1,796member
    blastdoor said:
    Kris2112 said:
    Please stop using that awful Motor Trend render.
    Ha ha :-) 

    Nah, they should keep using it until Apple actually releases something. Maybe seeing that fugly thing will inspire Apple to get something to market. 
    The Griswalds Truckster.
    edited December 2020 patchythepirate
  • Reply 13 of 17
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 6,957member
    razorpit said:
    blastdoor said:
    Kris2112 said:
    Please stop using that awful Motor Trend render.
    Ha ha :-) 

    Nah, they should keep using it until Apple actually releases something. Maybe seeing that fugly thing will inspire Apple to get something to market. 
    The Griswalds Truckster.
    🤮
  • Reply 14 of 17
    chasmchasm Posts: 2,404member
    But he still hasn’t fixed Siri.

    This report makes no sense, unless the Apple Car unicorn really is going to only be software.
    1. Siri is VASTLY improved in recently versions of the software.

    2. I'm not sure it will be 100 percent software, but you are correct that it isn't going to be an entire car. I wish AI (and Bloomberg) would stop pretending that it will be. At best, it is a partnership with a secret company that already makes cars, like say Volvo.

    More likely, it's a licensable integrated control system for future cars that goes waaaay beyond CarPlay.
    NotoriousDEVrazorpit
  • Reply 15 of 17
    Another vote for ‘not an entire car’. 

    And this hire tells me Voice will be a key feature in the Apple Autonomous Drive system: ‘Siri, please pass the clown in front of me goofing around on his Android phone.  And order takeout at my favorite restaurant and add that to today’s route before heading home.’
  • Reply 16 of 17
    razorpitrazorpit Posts: 1,796member
    chasm said:
    But he still hasn’t fixed Siri.

    This report makes no sense, unless the Apple Car unicorn really is going to only be software.
    1. Siri is VASTLY improved in recently versions of the software.

    2. I'm not sure it will be 100 percent software, but you are correct that it isn't going to be an entire car. I wish AI (and Bloomberg) would stop pretending that it will be. At best, it is a partnership with a secret company that already makes cars, like say Volvo.

    More likely, it's a licensable integrated control system for future cars that goes waaaay beyond CarPlay.
    I’m thinking the same. The reason why I’m thinking this goes back to Toyota dragging their feet years ago. My theory is Apple gave a presentation to very high level board members and completely spooked Toyota. There is no other reason for them to avoid CarPlay like they did.

    Also if you remember they had a joint partnership with Ford ~ 2015 - 2016, and they were using Ford’s Sync product. Ford sort of abandoned development of the entertainment portion of Sync and adopted CarPlay. Even making it retro active on prior models, something I don’t believe Toyota ever did.

    The only thing I’ll disagree with you on is Siri still stinks and is next to useless outside of setting timers and alarms.  ;)
    edited December 2020
  • Reply 17 of 17
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 11,754member
    charlesn said:
    The Apple Car is shaping up to be the new Apple TV. Remember that game-changer? Years of speculation, all ultimately leading to not an actual television at all, but an OTT box, which itself is on the road to extinction sooner than later, as its functionality should simply be licensed for inclusion in smart TVs. Who needs a separate box? Similarly, I find it hard to believe that an actual Apple car will ever emerge, and as the likes of Tesla, Google, GM and others keep refining their autonomous software, I'm wondering what innovation Apple will be able to bring that will justify its presence in the car business. That the guy in charge of Siri is now in charge of the car initiative doesn't exactly inspire confidence--almost a decade after it was introduced, Siri still sucks compared to other voice assistants, especially Alexa. And I say that as a devoted Mac guy since 1992. 
    Not. There already are in-TV ATV apps, but if you've ever used them, you'd know they suck pretty hard. I bought a brand new TV which has it, and its UI lag is worse than my 5-year-old ATV set-top box. Plus, smart TVs spy on you. No thanks...set-top it is.

    But yeah, Apple never promised anyone they were making a TV set. One guy pimped that rumor over and over, where other people pointed out to the too-low margins for Apple to chase that market.
    edited December 2020
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