Apple is reportedly rethinking its plans to enter the automotive market and has laid off workers involved with its 'Titan' project according to a report in the New York Times.

The report said that Apple has closed down parts of its self-driving car project and it cited three anonymous sources who were briefed on the move but "not allowed to speak about it publicly".

The NYT report noted that Apple has struggled to make progress with the project in recent years. The automotive sector faces a considerable shake-up as firms innovate to produce autonomous vehicles that will also likely come with different business models derived from asset sharing innovators such as Uber.

There are reports that Uber, in a limited test in Pittsburgh next week, plans to start picking up passengers in self-driving cars soon. Last month, Uber also acquired the start-up Otto for about US$700m, a purchase that brought with it some of the top minds in robotics and autonomous technology. Carmakers are also planning to lever their technical and industrial expertise to address the emerging self-driving sector.

Apple's efforts with its Titan programme have been characterised by their secrecy, the consumer electronics giant apparently treading cautiously while also hiring engineers from the traditional automotive field.

NYT said that Apple employees were told that the layoffs were part of a "reboot" of the car project.

The report also suggested that Apple has changed the focus of the project away from producing an electric car to focusing on the underlying technology for an autonomous vehicle. 

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