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January 24, 2019

Apple lays off 200 from autonomous car unit – CNBC

Apple has this week dismissed just over 200 employees from Project Titan, its stealthy autonomous vehicle group, people familiar with the matter told CNBC.

By Olly Wehring

Apple has this week dismissed just over 200 employees from Project Titan, its stealthy autonomous vehicle group, people familiar with the matter told CNBC.

An Apple spokesperson acknowledged the layoffs and said the company still saw opportunity in the space.

"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," the spokesperson said.

"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."

In August, Apple enlisted a Tesla engineering vice president and Apple veteran, Doug Field, to head the Titan team alongside Bob Mansfield. This week's dismissals from the group were seen internally as anticipated restructuring under the relatively new management.

Other employees who were impacted by the restructuring of Project Titan are staying at Apple but moving to different parts of the company.

CNBC noted Apple executives had been quiet in recent months about the company's car prospects which appear to have been scaled back from the initial rumoured vehicle to a focus on software. In 2016, Apple laid off employees from the same group, shifting its strategy. Fully self-driving cars remain experimental, even for major players in the field such as Waymo, Cruise and Tesla.

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