Bob Mansfield Reportedly Shaking Up Apple Car Project With Layoffs

1 minute read
| Analysis

The Apple Crystal Ball with Artist Rendering of Apple CarApple has been laying off people from Project Titan, the company’s not-so-secret car project. The New York Times reported that Apple is rethinking its plans for a car, has “shuttered parts of its self-driving car project,” and laid off “dozens of people.”

The Times also characterized these moves as “signs of trouble,” and said that people within the project have, “struggled to explain what Apple could bring to a self-driving car that other companies could not.”

At the same time, Apple veteran Bob Mansfield took over project Titan in July. Even if Apple’s car plans were going swimmingly, Mr. Mansfield is known as a no-nonsense exec willing to shake things up. The Times may be right that the project is in trouble, or it may be that as Mr. Mansfield reshapes the project, people and sub-projects will get trimmed.

Where Will Apple Car Go?

The question remains on where Apple will eventually decide to go. The report noted the company has functioning autonomous vehicles operating in controlled environments. That suggests Apple has made real progress on fundamental technology for self-driving cars.

But that doesn’t necessarily mean Apple will follow through with its original plans to make an actual car. Apple could, like Google, license out its software to automakers. That could take the form of self-driving software, human-to-car interface technology, dashboard software, or some other element. Doing so would go against Apple’s modus operandi of making its own devices where controls the software and the hardware.

Apple could also continue down the path of developing a branded Apple car, or Bob Mansfield could instead put a bullet in the whole thing.

I wouldn’t make too much of Mr. Mansfield laying off dozens of employees when Project Titan has more than 1,000 team members. Instead, I’d take it as a sign that he’s honing in on the direction he wants to take.

Your mileage may vary.

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brilor
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brilor

Developing a car is very difficult. Testing it is very difficult because there is no “Public Beta”. Those are serious challenges. Now we’re hearing the schedule is bumped further out than 2020; no big surprise there. Full level 5 cars( level 1 to 5 is an SAE designation and most manufacturers are working on level 3 vehicles ), with no human intervention required, might be technically possible ( but aren’t there yet ) but convincing the public to give up control of their vehicle is going to be difficult. Pundits predicting the eminent demise of an old approach are constantly… Read more »

CudaBoy
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CudaBoy

Hmmmmm, I believe a couple months ago I said that given Mansfield’s reputation that he would do exactly what he is doing. Meanwhile Tesla is releasing version 8 this week of it’s Autopilot suite with a boatload of improvements. Time waits for no one and Apple moves incredibly slow at everything -adding copycat features late like NFC and dual cameras, thin bodies, big screens-smaller screens etc seems to work as a business plan for the iPhone but you can’t be incomplete and play catch-up every year with the 2nd most expensive purchase in anyone’s life i.e. a car, so apparently… Read more »

Dorkus Maximus
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Dorkus Maximus

I wonder what Jony Ive has to say about this.

ibuck
Member
ibuck

miles to go before the general public gives up driving their own vehicles

California is trying to develop drivers with better knowledge, defensive driving skills and a calm, share the road attitude. Yet in far too many drivers, there are poor driving skills, selfish actions and defensive attitudes.

Hopefully, autonomous cars—when they finally are ready for daily use by average people—will make getting around safer, faster, and with less stress.

Lee Dronick
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Lee Dronick

My belief is that the autonomous car industry has advanced FAR faster than Apple thought it would.

It has, ahem, miles to go before the general public gives up driving their own vehicles. Of course we don’t yet know what Apple has, ahem. under the hood with their auto.

geoduck
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geoduck

My belief is that the autonomous car industry has advanced FAR faster than Apple thought it would. Tesla has a semi-self driving car on the road now. Ford and others have announced they will bring similar cars to market in the next couple of years. Electric cars from Nissan, Tesla and others are on the road now with more to follow very soon. Yet, Apple is still on the timeline for mid 2020’s. By then the field will be crowded and Apple will struggle to make itself distinctive. So yes I see this as the project being in trouble, but… Read more »

Lee Dronick
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Lee Dronick

Where is CudaBoy?