Apple axes 190 employees from self-driving car division

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Project Titan
One of Apple's self-driving vehicles in the wild.
Photo: Idiggapple/Twitter

Apple’s self-driving car project may be nearing the end of the road.

After rumors surfaced last month that the company slashed its workforce for Project Titan, Apple confirmed today that 190 employees in Santa Clara and Sunnyvale have been released from the self-driving car project.

Project Titan was reportedly greenlit toward the end of 2014. Apple hired hundreds of engineers setting out to design and build its own self-driving car. Numerous roadblocks hit the struggling project and the company reportedly changed the focus toward just making the underlying autonomous driving technology instead of a complete car.

Massive layoffs hit Project Titan

Apple revealed the recent layoffs in a letter to the California Employment Development Department. An Apple spokesperson confirmed the layoffs in the letter and said they’ll take effect on April 16.

Engineers were impacted the most by the layoffs. 38 engineering program managers, 33 hardware engineers, 31 product design engineers and 22 software engineers were among those that were cut, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

Internally, Apple has reportedly characterized these layoffs as something to be expected with a new manager on a project. Doug Field returned to Apple at the end of the summer after serving for five years at Tesla. He’s now working with Bob Mansfield to head Project Titan.

Still a long road ahead

Details of Apple’s self-driving car project were just posted by the company last week. Apple’s cars needed a driver to take over about once every 1.1 miles. By comparison, Google’s Waymo division only had a disengagement every 11,017 miles.

It’s unclear what the future holds for Apple’s automotive ambitions from here. Tim Cook has said self-driving cars is the mother of all AI problems. With iPhone sales dropping though, the company appears to be tightening its focus by jettisoning projects that aren’t as promising.