Looks like Apple’s self-driving car division is in a bit of a turmoil. The Cupertino giant is said to be laying off around 190 employees from its Santa Clara and Sunnyvale offices from its self-driving car division.
Apple disclosed the layoff details to the California Employment Development Department, according to a report in the SF Chronicle. Among the laid off employees, there are 38 engineering program managers, 33 hardware engineers, 31 product design engineers and 22 software engineers. These layoffs will come into effect on 16 April.
Apple began Project Titan in 2014, but there hasn’t been any official announcement from it. Unlike its competitors such as Alphabet Inc’s Waymo, General Motors’ Cruise, Tesla and more, we rarely hear much about Project Titan apart from speculations. In terms of mileage also, Project Titan is far behind its competition. While it has logged in 79,745 miles between 31 November 2017 and 1 December 2018. Waymo, on the other hand, has already crossed over 10 million miles in its lifetime.
According to a report in Business Insider, the layoffs are permanent and affected employees have been notified of their separation dates.
Apple’s plans regarding Project Titan are not concrete, according to a report by Apple Insider. Some claim that it is developing a full-fledged self-driving van, others claim that Apple is developing a platform which can be licensed out. Either way, nothing is expected to go on sale till 2023.
Waymo has led the self-driving car industry with 11,017 miles between disengagements in 2018, a 50 percent improvement from 5,595 miles the year before. Waymo said the improvement came despite driving 1.2 million miles in California, where roads are much busier than other areas where it is testing vehicles, such as suburban Arizona according to Reuters report earlier this month.
“A lower rate of disengagements shows that our cars are getting better at recognising and handling a wide variety of driving situations, including ‘edge cases’ across the cities we’ve been testing in: those unusual situations that a human driver might see only once (or never) in a lifetime of driving,” Waymo said in blog post.
Apple, by contrast, came in dead last, logging just over one mile per disengagement. In a letter to regulators, Apple said its approach to reporting disengagements had been “conservative” and that its report was “over-inclusive.”
Apple said it changed how it categorized disengagements starting in July 2018. Since then, the company said it had driven about 2,000 miles between what it calls “important disengagements,” which it defined as “situations that might have resulted in a safety-related event or a violation of the rules of the road.” At least two of those “important disengagements” happened when other human drivers hit its test vehicles, Apple said.