Apple‘s mysterious Project Titan appears to have lost steam, according to sources “familiar with the project.” Bloomberg spoke to people who say the tech giant won’t be building an autonomous car under Project Titan any longer, but will rather hone in on self-driving car software. These people say hundreds of employees working on Project Titan have either been let go or reassigned.
Anonymous sources told Bloomberg there have been several issues with Project Titan. According to one person, “It was an incredible failure of leadership.” Project Titan head Steve Zadesky, who used to be an engineer at Ford, left the project earlier this year to work elsewhere at Apple. Bob Mansfield, a manager with experience developing the iPad, eventually came on the team to lead in April.
Around a month afterwards, Mansfield announced a “strategy shift” at a company meeting, according to Bloomberg which received information from people present at the meeting. Mansfield said Apple wouldn’t create a self-driving car that could compete with those from companies like Tesla; rather Project Titan would zero in on self-driving car software. But after that meeting, engineers began to leave Project Titan. In August and September employees were let go. Others left on their own.
Some people suspected Apple battled supply chain struggles as well. The tech giant typically holds exclusive rights for smartphone parts, but such a strategy didn’t seem to work in the autonomous car game. Suppliers likely didn’t want to grant exclusive rights as Apple may not have sold many cars at the beginning. Center for Automotive Research analyst Eric Paul Dennis told Bloomberg about Apple, “When they started digging into the details of what that would entail it likely became an intractable problem.”
According to Bloomberg’s sources, the engineers still with Project Titan are working on “autonomous programs, vision sensors, and simulators for testing the platform in real-world environments.” Regulatory specialists are still part of the team as well.