Three more 'Apple Car' engineers leave for aviation startups

Posted:
in General Discussion edited December 2021
Following the departure of a senior director of engineering, three more "Apple Car" engineers have left to pursue similar positions at air taxi-focused startups.

Image Credit: Archer Aviation
Image Credit: Archer Aviation


Recently, Apple lost Michael Schwekutsch, senior director of engineering to Archer Aviation, a startup bent on creating electric-powered air taxis. Schwekutsch currently serves as senior vice president at the startup.

But the losses haven't stopped there, as pointed out by Bloomberg.

Both Alex Clarabut, engineering manager for the team's battery systems group, and Apple hardware engineering manager Stephen Spiteri, have also departed to Archer Aviation.

Eric Rogers, one of Apple's chief engineers for radar systems, has also departed for an air-taxi startup, though this time it's Joby Aviation.

Apple's yet-unannounced "Apple Car" project has existed in some form or another for at least seven years.

Sources familiar with the project have stated that Apple plans to make the vehicle fully autonomous and gives the project a potential launch date in 2025.

Investment bank Morgan Stanley recently advised clients it expects the forthcoming "Apple Car" to be the "ultimate EV bear case," and affect stocks in rival automotive companies.

Read on AppleInsider

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 19
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 5,857member
    Let's face it.  If you're in the right career choice, an engineer working at Apple is great on the resume and I'm sure they are compensated well.  The lure of a startup, and the lure of equity ownership is something that Apple may not want or be able to compete in.

    I know quite a few folks that are in this field and they jump to these kind of companies all the time.  They are richer than I will ever be from all the money/equity they make at these tech firms.
    Alex_VapplguyStrangeDays
  • Reply 2 of 19
    DAalsethDAalseth Posts: 1,849member
    sflocal said:
    Let's face it.  If you're in the right career choice, an engineer working at Apple is great on the resume and I'm sure they are compensated well.  The lure of a startup, and the lure of equity ownership is something that Apple may not want or be able to compete in.

    I know quite a few folks that are in this field and they jump to these kind of companies all the time.  They are richer than I will ever be from all the money/equity they make at these tech firms.
    The company I work for has lost several engineers, and programmers, simply because they saw something that looked more interesting, looked more fun. 
    Alex_Vcuriousrun8StrangeDays
  • Reply 3 of 19
    larryjwlarryjw Posts: 873member
    What we might be seeing is the seeding of EV engineers, going from company to company, and perhaps coming back again -- the equivalent of horizontal gene transfer. 

    The extent to which NDAs are not hindering this transfer might be interesting to know. 
    byronl
  • Reply 4 of 19
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 9,732member
    Some might consider these moves a sign of Apple’s lack of progress in the project. They would be wrong, of course. Thankfully ,clear minds have prevailed in this thread so far. 
    michelb76Alex_VStrangeDays
  • Reply 5 of 19
    22july201322july2013 Posts: 2,684member
    Life happens. Maybe SOME of the people who left Apple left for another reason, like finding a spouse that lived in another city. Apple is a big company. Apple has 147,000 employees. The rate of self-inflicted death in the US is 13.4/100,000 per year. Using that fact, 20 employees at Apple die this way every year. But that doesn't mean Apple has anything to do with it. And neither does leaving Apple mean Apple has anything to do with it. It's just life.
    StrangeDays
  • Reply 6 of 19
    byronlbyronl Posts: 202member
    lkrupp said:
    Some might consider these moves a sign of Apple’s lack of progress in the project. They would be wrong, of course. Thankfully ,clear minds have prevailed in this thread so far. 
    why would they be wrong? they seem unmotivated, could be wrong but it seems like it.
    darkvadercuriousrun8
  • Reply 7 of 19
    If there is one thing to learn from these facts, is that Apple is actually working on a flying car.
    Remember, i told it first  ;)

    Maurizio

    PS: just joking
    DAalseth
  • Reply 8 of 19
    Face it, Apple told them to go, in order to influence those startups into using Apple tech in their flying taxis.
  • Reply 9 of 19
    byronl said:
    lkrupp said:
    Some might consider these moves a sign of Apple’s lack of progress in the project. They would be wrong, of course. Thankfully ,clear minds have prevailed in this thread so far. 
    why would they be wrong? they seem unmotivated, could be wrong but it seems like it.
    It can be sign of progress: I know a number of these engineers who left their autonomous vehicle startup because the fun period of doing new stuff was over and the grind of making it production ready started. And it was not a secret. They always stated that when the job starts to get boring, they will do a new startup. And they did so this year (with a good bank balance from the sale of their earlier startup to a big corporation a few years ago).
    mjtomlinAlex_VStrangeDays
  • Reply 10 of 19
    mjtomlinmjtomlin Posts: 2,504member
    Angmoh said:
    byronl said:
    lkrupp said:
    Some might consider these moves a sign of Apple’s lack of progress in the project. They would be wrong, of course. Thankfully ,clear minds have prevailed in this thread so far. 
    why would they be wrong? they seem unmotivated, could be wrong but it seems like it.
    It can be sign of progress: I know a number of these engineers who left their autonomous vehicle startup because the fun period of doing new stuff was over and the grind of making it production ready started. And it was not a secret. They always stated that when the job starts to get boring, they will do a new startup. And they did so this year (with a good bank balance from the sale of their earlier startup to a big corporation a few years ago).

    Moves like these can actually be a sign that things are progressing. Changes are made to staff when changes are made to a project during phases of research and development to tooling and production.
  • Reply 11 of 19
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 9,732member
    byronl said:
    lkrupp said:
    Some might consider these moves a sign of Apple’s lack of progress in the project. They would be wrong, of course. Thankfully ,clear minds have prevailed in this thread so far. 
    why would they be wrong? they seem unmotivated, could be wrong but it seems like it.
    Because, as the old saying goes, at some point it becomes necessary to shoot the engineers and start production. Both of my sons are engineers btw. The predicted release of the Apple vehicle is 2025 so all of the important engineering has likely been finished. Now it’s time to figure out how to manufacture the thing.
    edited December 2021
  • Reply 12 of 19
    Electric Air Taxis = Richie Rich clientele and ridiculously over-inflated market caps for a product that has very limited use cases. In other words, the engineers are just chasing some easy money. 
    Alex_V
  • Reply 13 of 19
    crowleycrowley Posts: 9,343member
    lkrupp said:
    byronl said:
    lkrupp said:
    Some might consider these moves a sign of Apple’s lack of progress in the project. They would be wrong, of course. Thankfully ,clear minds have prevailed in this thread so far. 
    why would they be wrong? they seem unmotivated, could be wrong but it seems like it.
    Because, as the old saying goes, at some point it becomes necessary to shoot the engineers and start production. Both of my sons are engineers btw. The predicted release of the Apple vehicle is 2025 so all of the important engineering has likely been finished. Now it’s time to figure out how to manufacture the thing.
    I'm sure Apple do that all the time.  Finish a product, let all the engineers go to pasture.  There's no value in retaining knowledge after all.  And there's no point thinking about an Apple Car 2, why would Apple be interested in making that?
    muthuk_vanalingamdarkvader
  • Reply 14 of 19
    Life happens. Maybe SOME of the people who left Apple left for another reason, like finding a spouse that lived in another city. Apple is a big company. Apple has 147,000 employees. The rate of self-inflicted death in the US is 13.4/100,000 per year. Using that fact, 20 employees at Apple die this way every year. But that doesn't mean Apple has anything to do with it. And neither does leaving Apple mean Apple has anything to do with it. It's just life.
    Bad comparison. First, leaving Apple is not self-inflicted harm. Being blindsided by any company including Apple is harmful to engineer and his/her career. Second, the stats tell about higher level persons leaving Apple and not how many engineers leave it in total. You do not get that info. Apple hires and loses people just like any company. My friend left Apple because of their stubborn management while bringing few decades of engineering experience from Europe and US (including finance which seems to be far stricter than Apple for example on testing methods for solution as investors cannot lose money due to bugs in investment software). Now he works in Zoox and previously in GM after leaving Apple. Both are developing autonomous cars in San Francisco/Silicon Valley area. Should have kept him and listen to his - at times - harsh (I know his method as I worked with him for 6 years on adjacent desks) remarks to improve the process.
  • Reply 15 of 19
    Electric Air Taxis = Richie Rich clientele and ridiculously over-inflated market caps for a product that has very limited use cases. In other words, the engineers are just chasing some easy money. 
    Nevertheless it is clientele. In fact there is investment company that started this few years ago and it makes those flights social meet venues between people who can afford it. I believe this company is still in Florida. I tried to get job with them in engineering. There may be market for this. Not all solutions are for general population and we have to respect that.
    edited December 2021 beowulfschmidt
  • Reply 16 of 19
    sflocal said:
    Let's face it.  If you're in the right career choice, an engineer working at Apple is great on the resume and I'm sure they are compensated well.  The lure of a startup, and the lure of equity ownership is something that Apple may not want or be able to compete in.

    I know quite a few folks that are in this field and they jump to these kind of companies all the time.  They are richer than I will ever be from all the money/equity they make at these tech firms.

    Apple isn't known for paying engineers all that well.  It's generally considered a good starter job for an engineer, something that looks good on the resume to get hired by a company that does pay well.  Nobody I know who worked for Apple in engineering is still there, they all moved on.

    So engineers dumping Apple after being there a few years isn't necessarily a surprise.

    But that doesn't mean the car project is on track.  Losing a key engineer can set a project back years or even kill it.  And there's lot of evidence that suggests Apple is floundering on the car, the biggest being that compared to other companies working on self-driving, Apple is barely doing any testing at all, and what they are testing is having a lot more issues per mile than others.  We know that from the reports companies testing self-driving in California have to file with the state.

    I'd be amazed if Apple has a car available as a product within a decade.
  • Reply 17 of 19
    lkrupp said:
    byronl said:
    lkrupp said:
    Some might consider these moves a sign of Apple’s lack of progress in the project. They would be wrong, of course. Thankfully ,clear minds have prevailed in this thread so far. 
    why would they be wrong? they seem unmotivated, could be wrong but it seems like it.
    Because, as the old saying goes, at some point it becomes necessary to shoot the engineers and start production. Both of my sons are engineers btw. The predicted release of the Apple vehicle is 2025 so all of the important engineering has likely been finished. Now it’s time to figure out how to manufacture the thing.

    The engineering is nowhere close to ready.  Read the California self-driving car reports.

    In 2020 Google had one car that drove almost as many miles as Apple had total miles with all of their test cars.  And none of Apple's test cars are designed by Apple, they appear to all be Lexus RX450h crossovers.

    There is zero chance Apple will release a car in 2025.  I'd be amazed if they do it by the end of 2031.

    And the reality is that Apple just doesn't have anything interesting to offer the car market.  Cars have two purposes, transportation of people and stuff from point A to point B, and fun.  An Apple car isn't going to offer anything unique or interesting for transportation, and if it's self-driving only it will offer exactly nothing for fun.

    What's going to be a game changer is the first car that's for sale to the general public that has a steering wheel and is fun to drive, and is also capable of handling somebody getting in and saying "I'm drunk, take me home" and the car can disconnect the driver controls and safely do exactly that.  And Apple has exactly zero chance of being the company that makes that car.

    (For the record, Tesla isn't going to pull it off either.  Elon's idiotic move to drop radar, not even try lidar, and go with an entirely camera-based system is not going to work.)
  • Reply 18 of 19
    darkvader said:
    sflocal said:
    Let's face it.  If you're in the right career choice, an engineer working at Apple is great on the resume and I'm sure they are compensated well.  The lure of a startup, and the lure of equity ownership is something that Apple may not want or be able to compete in.

    I know quite a few folks that are in this field and they jump to these kind of companies all the time.  They are richer than I will ever be from all the money/equity they make at these tech firms.
    Apple isn't known for paying engineers all that well.  It's generally considered a good starter job for an engineer, something that looks good on the resume to get hired by a company that does pay well.  Nobody I know who worked for Apple in engineering is still there, they all moved on.

    So engineers dumping Apple after being there a few years isn't necessarily a surprise.

    But that doesn't mean the car project is on track.  Losing a key engineer can set a project back years or even kill it.  And there's lot of evidence that suggests Apple is floundering on the car, the biggest being that compared to other companies working on self-driving, Apple is barely doing any testing at all, and what they are testing is having a lot more issues per mile than others.  We know that from the reports companies testing self-driving in California have to file with the state.

    I'd be amazed if Apple has a car available as a product within a decade.
    Can you cite your claim? Gruber was just discussing on his podcast the opposite - that Apple is a place that a lot of people spend their entire careers with, or large portions (this was discussed in the context that maybe it was a bad thing since they could not be getting enough external culture influence).

    The rest of your post is typical low-value fare, framing as fact that which nobody (certainly not you) knows. Nobody even knows what Project Titan *is* yet, let along whether it's a consumer self-driving EV, or a commercially licensed OS, or what. No one knows. It hasn't been confirmed anywhere. It's...something, yes. But again Gruber was just spitballing that it could be something entirely different than what people expect it to be. 
    edited December 2021
  • Reply 19 of 19
    I don’t like the idea of flying air-taxis. One word: Noise. 
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