Apple secretively staffs up its self-driving vehicle team

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There are opening on the Apple Car design team.
Looking for a job? Apply to help design the Apple Car.
Photo: pic server.org

Programmers with years of automotive experience can apply now to help create the Apple Car. Apple’s website lists a number of job openings that, reading between the lines, appear to be for the team that’s building Apple’s self-driving vehicle.

And this isn’t exactly a new hiring boom. Analysts at GlobalData report that Apple posted more than 300 job openings in 2020 related to road safety, electric motor controls and other vehicle-related positions.

With sales of the iPhone leveling off, Apple is looking for new products to generate future profits. A self-driving car is one of them, and it has the potential to bring in huge amounts of revenue. Leaks indicate that assembly could begin as early as 2024, but more pessimistic projections say the Apple Car might not hit the road before 2028.

Apple Car jobs available now

A search for “car” on the Jobs at Apple section of the company’s website turns up plenty of openings. Some of these are for CarPlay (Apple’s platform that lets an iOS device connect to a car radio) or other products that don’t seem related to building an actual vehicle.

But for other job listings, some of which contain “Car Experience” in the title, it doesn’t take a huge intuitive leap to see that Apple Car is the project. For example, openings for a systems engineer and embedded developer put “5 years automotive industry experience” in the qualifications. And a quality-assurance engineer opening lists “in depth knowledge of automotive technology” as one of the qualifications.

The job descriptions seem purposely vague, telling some applicants they’ll “design and develop software that will power in-vehicle Apple experiences of the future.” Some of these descriptions might be interpreted to cover CarPlay, except they’re distinctly different from clearly CarPlay-related job openings. These state, “You will build the future of CarPlay.”

Working at Tesla helps

One way to get an inside track to joining the Apple Car design team is previously work at Tesla. Tesla’s head of autonomous vehicle software development recently joined Apple’s secret car project, for example. Other high-level Tesla execs also made the jump.

“With the recruitment of ex-Tesla employees over the past few years, Apple is in a better place than ever to know the best step forward for its ambitious electric cars project,” wrote GlobalData’s Ajay Thalluri.

Keeping the Apple Car a secret

Apple isn’t openly hiring engineers and programmers for the Apple Car project because the company prefers to keep mum about unreleased products. Including this one.

But CEO Tim Cook unbent enough back in 2017 to say, “We’re focusing on autonomous systems.” He wouldn’t commit to building a full vehicle.

Other companies aren’t so reticent. Hyundai said earlier in January that it engaged in talks with Apple about building an electric car.