Staff departures, setbacks and rethinks dogged the progress of Apple and Google’s self-driving car projects.
Apple closed part of its Titan project and laid off “dozens” of employees, according to The New York Times, quoting unnamed sources. Over the last two years, the company has added resources to self-driving cars but struggled to make much progress. In July, Apple parachuted in Bob Mansfield, a company veteran, to take charge.
Mansfield is shifting emphasis from building an actual car to developing the underlying technology, the same approach as Google. Apple is thought to have more than 1,000 staff working on the project.
Apple has never officially confirmed it is working on self-driving cars.
Google is not faring so well with its own efforts. Chris Urmson, CTO of its self-driving car project, left in August, said Bloomberg. He had been with the initiative for more than seven years. His departure comes a year after John Krafcik, the new CEO, joined the project.
Urmson’s is not the only departure, as progress has been pedestrian. Google was an early mover in self-driving cars but has fallen behind rivals which have seemingly simpler, but more achievable, ideas, said former employees and others familiar with the project.
Despite being an early player in the field, Google was not involved when Singapore unveiled the first autonomous taxi in August. Instead, a start-up called nuTonomy was the tech vendor.