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Apple Confirms 190 Layoffs From Self-Driving Car Project

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Apple is laying off 190 employees who worked in its Santa Clara and Sunnyvale self-driving car division, the company said in a letter to the California Employment Development Department that was shared by the San Francisco Chronicle.

Affected employees include 38 engineering program managers, 33 hardware engineers, 31 product design engineers, and 22 software engineers, with the layoff set to happen on April 16.


Last month, Apple confirmed that it was removing more than 200 employees from its autonomous car team, with some to be laid off and some to be relocated to other areas in the company.

At the time, an Apple spokesperson said that it was part of a restructuring where the team was focusing on its work for "key areas for 2019."
"We have an incredibly talented team working on autonomous systems and associated technologies at Apple. As the team focuses their work on several key areas for 2019, some groups are being moved to projects in other parts of the company, where they will support machine learning and other initiatives, across all of Apple."

"We continue to believe there is a huge opportunity with autonomous systems, that Apple has unique capabilities to contribute, and that this is the most ambitious machine learning project ever."
Some rumors have suggested that the layoffs were because of a reorganization under former Tesla engineer Doug Field, who joined the company back in August 2018 to lead the car project alongside Bob Mansfield.

Apple started work on self-driving vehicles back in 2014, with rumors at the time suggesting Apple was working to develop a full electric vehicle at a secret location near its Cupertino headquarters.

Leadership issues, internal strife, and other problems impacted the development of the car, and in 2016, new information suggested Apple had shelved its plans for a car to instead focus on an autonomous driving system.

The hiring of Field, who was once Apple's VP of Mac hardware before he went to Tesla, has, however, been seen as a sign that Apple is again developing a full autonomous vehicle, which could perhaps explain another major employee shakeup.

Despite the layoffs, Apple says it still sees a huge opportunity in autonomous systems in the future.

Article Link: Apple Confirms 190 Layoffs From Self-Driving Car Project
 

SSDGUY

macrumors 6502a
Jul 27, 2009
684
825
Good. We've been promised flying cars since before the time of the Jetsons. This self-driving car stuff is such a distraction to what Apple should be working on, like where's my robot AppleMaid? That project has been sidelined longer than the MacPro.
 
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aksunder

macrumors newbie
Nov 2, 2008
2
31
This company has more money than anyone else - and they have invented pretty much nothing interesting since Steve-o left us. Cooke is good at operations - but their product development sucks now. I literally had to ask Siri how to turn off the new iphone. Get rid of the new Balmer and put in a true visionary to lead this thing.
 
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UltimaKilo

macrumors 6502a
Nov 14, 2007
606
464
FL
I’m still not certain why Apple keeps resetting this project. Is it really going to bring in that much revenue? Maybe they should focus on AI instead and work on this on a smaller scale.
[doublepost=1551304731][/doublepost]
This company has more money than anyone else - and they have invented pretty much nothing interesting since Steve-o left us. Cooke is good at operations - but their product development sucks now. I literally had to ask Siri how to turn off the new iphone. Get rid of the new Balmer and put in a true visionary to lead this thing.

The Apple Watch has the ability to be one of their most transformative products and if the rumors are true about what their new services are going to offer, it’s going to rattle the industry.

The days of shiny new objects are gone for the foreseeable future. AR and VR tech isn’t anywhere near good enough yet for Apple to get involved with.
 
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LiveM

macrumors 65816
Oct 30, 2015
1,182
555
Geez, imagine the way Apple would handle safety recalls on a vehicle: by failing to admit there is a problem, refusing to fix the issue and voiding all responsibility for cars you'd had serviced by anyone else, then co-incidentally fixing the problem while introducing new hazards with their next great idea and leaving owners of the older models high and dry with a vastly devalued, dangerous lemon.
 
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apolloa

Suspended
Oct 21, 2008
12,318
7,798
Time, because it rules EVERYTHING!
This report states Apple are making redundant, as in firing, 190 employees and the first comment makes a comment claiming they’ll be moved on another project... even if it was a joke, not a clever one. Then again those 10 extra people could design the computer themselves probably.

I also recall some serious posts in the last recent report about Apple moving people around claiming they wouldn’t be firing anyone, hmm we’ll inevitably they are.

The entire project was a flop to begin with, a few years in with apparently nothing to show for it bar some vehicles with test kit bolted on them.
 
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JPack

macrumors 604
Mar 27, 2017
6,692
11,242
I’m still not certain why Apple keeps resetting this project. Is it really going to bring in that much revenue? Maybe they should focus on AI instead and work on this on a smaller scale.

It's a strong indication Project Titan isn't going well and hints at a revolving door of managers. We see the same thing with Apple India where Apple appointed 4 executives in the past 3 years.

Without a hardware platform for the next decade, AI itself won't meaningfully replace iPhone revenue.
 
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oneMadRssn

macrumors 603
Sep 8, 2011
5,408
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Europe
I’m still not certain why Apple keeps resetting this project. Is it really going to bring in that much revenue? Maybe they should focus on AI instead and work on this on a smaller scale.

I've said this before a bunch of times, and been mainly dismissed but more and more is showing it's probably true:

I bet Apple wasn't planning for this project to be bring in revenue. Instead Apple wanted a seat at the table of any autonomous car industry if/when it materialized so they could make sure their other products and services integrate well. There is no better way to guarantee yourself a seat at the table than by investing early in R&D to develop lots of valuable IP. I think that is what Apple did (and might still be doing). If they get a modest patent portfolio out of this research, and maybe develop a few innovative algorithms or technologies, it will have been worth it.

This probably took up a small percentage of their R&D budget, so it probably didn't cost much relatively speaking. It just got a ton of media coverage because anything related to Apple is news and anything related to autonomous driving is news, put the two together and it's always guaranteed to draw lots of eyeballs and clicks. But don't confuse media attention to importance within Apple - it probably wasn't considered very important.
 
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69Mustang

macrumors 604
Jan 7, 2014
7,634
14,461
In between a rock and a hard place
Geez, imagine the way Apple would handle safety recalls on a vehicle: by failing to admit there is a problem, refusing to fix the issue and voiding all responsibility for cars you'd had serviced by anyone else, then co-incidentally fixing the problem while introducing new hazards with their next great idea and leaving owners of the older models high and dry with a vastly devalued, dangerous lemon.
Soooooo... like your typical car company.;):p:D
 
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pmau

macrumors 68000
Nov 9, 2010
1,565
849
This company has more money than anyone else - and they have invented pretty much nothing interesting since Steve-o left us.
That is so true.
They could have invented a foldable, self-driving car that uses Face-ID if you hit someone.
(No seriously, I totally agree with you. They could spend millions in R&D and not fire anyone)
 
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JPack

macrumors 604
Mar 27, 2017
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This probably took up a small percentage of their R&D budget, so it probably didn't cost much relatively speaking. It just got a ton of media coverage because anything related to Apple is news and anything related to autonomous driving is news, put the two together and it's always guaranteed to draw lots of eyeballs and clicks. But don't confuse media attention to importance within Apple - it probably wasn't considered very important.

The guy leading Project Titan was once paid $85 million annually as an SVP at Apple.

I don't think Tim Cook pulled Mansfield out of retirement so the guy could manage a small R&D project with low budget and little importance.
 
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Scottsoapbox

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Oct 10, 2014
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The employees are being reassigned oversee a new project using machine learning and AI to develop innovative new watch bands.
 
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jerryk

Contributor
Nov 3, 2011
6,398
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SF Bay Area
I’m still not certain why Apple keeps resetting this project. Is it really going to bring in that much revenue? Maybe they should focus on AI instead and work on this on a smaller scale.

Autonomous cars are AI applications.

And the car tackles a show host of issues that can be applied to other Apple product. Like learning how to create models that learn from their errors. Imagine a phone that learns you always misspelled certain words while texting. Or a system that knows when you are driving a car, and not just a passenger. That could automatically send calls to voicemail, text - sorry I am driving, etc. Have a new watch app that detect when you are drowsy or incapacitated and works with the car's autonomous system to pull over safety, turn the flashers on, try to rouse you, and if no response, calls 911. Could also work with car to prevent drunk driving.

If Apple can create these other technologies they can sell it to car companies on a per unit basis and give themselves more revenue uneffected by retailer buyers whims.
 
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BruceEBonus

macrumors 65816
Sep 23, 2007
1,347
1,332
Derbyshire, England
Why was/is this dead in the water from its initial concept? A car you don’t drive with another car-size thing bolted on top for twice the cost of a car you can get to drive? What’s not to like? Come on Tim...give it another go. Throw money at it again but this time throw it harder!
 
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oneMadRssn

macrumors 603
Sep 8, 2011
5,408
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The guy leading Project Titan was once paid $85 million annually as an SVP at Apple.

I don't think Tim Cook pulled Mansfield out of retirement so the guy could manage a small R&D project with low budget and little importance.

Do you know if all he did with 100% of his time was Project Titan, or did he have other duties? According to the news articles at the time, he also stayed on as an advisor to Cook. So I don't think all of his compensation can be attributed to Project Titan.

It's all relative too. Apple spent $14.2 billion on R&D in 2018. That's insanely huge R&D expenditure. Apple's 10-K does not break out how much they spend on employee compensation, but they say $16.7 billion was spent on "Selling, general and administrative." Accounts Payable was $9 billion. Basically, what I'm getting at is that hundreds of millions of dollars on a project for Apple is "low budget."
 
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Rocketman

macrumors 603
In a recent interview Elon Musk stated he has 10x as much data as all other self driving car efforts combined by having delivered shipping units already with full autonomy installed but not fully activated.

He said he doesn't use LIDAR but relies on two cameras and a few sensors. It may be Apple was going down a rabbit hole from 1st gen tech inertia.
 
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