While Apple continues to Hire Tesla Engineers & Executives to their Future Vehicle Project, it's Johny Srouji's contribution that's a Surprise
While Patently Apple has posted a long series of patent report on Apple's car project known as Project Titan, rumors over the last month have tried to escalate the timing of a car to market prematurely for the sake of hype. We covered three rumor reports over the last 40 days: 01, 02 and 03. Trying to predict a date years in advance of when Apple will release any new revolutionary device or car, is absolutely futile.
Today, Bloomberg published a report adding fuel to the fire though with some meatier information, especially about a string of key hires from Tesla. Bloomberg's report notes that Apple will take 5 to 7 years to launch their autonomous, electric vehicle. The project is moving slower than hoped for due to COVID-19, where the majority of the team is currently either working from home or at the office part-time.
Bloomberg claims that Apple has a small team of hardware engineers developing drive systems, vehicle interior and external car body designs with the goal of eventually shipping a vehicle (that have been patented). That’s a more ambitious goal than in previous years when the project mostly focused on creating an underlying self-driving system.
Overall, a key differentiator for Apple's car over the competition would be Apple’s ability to integrate its self-driving system, a pricey initiative that has spurred the company to develop its own software, sensor hardware and chip technologies. The goal is have the user input their destination into the vehicles system and then be driven there with little or no other engagement.
Some of Project Titan's Major Hires Worth Noting
Most notable, Bloomberg lists a great number of new hires from Tesla. Bloomberg notes that Apple hired former Tesla engineering vice president Steve MacManus, but he initially worked on projects unrelated to the car. Now MacManus leads a development group with several employees focused on car interiors, fabrics, car testing and vehicle manufacturing, according to people with knowledge of the matter.
MacManus reports to Doug Field, a former top Tesla vehicle engineer who runs the Apple car project day to day.
Apple also recently hired Jonathan Sive, a vehicle engineer from BMW AG, Tesla and Alphabet Inc.’s Waymo, as a senior manager on the car project.
In 2019, Apple tapped Michael Schwekutsch, Tesla’s former vice president in charge of drive systems, adding to a growing list of former Tesla employees working on the vehicle effort.' ate in 2020, Apple also hired another former Tesla vice president, Stuart Bowers, according to a person familiar with the move. He led Tesla’s self-driving technology team until mid-2019.
One of the more interesting twists in the report is Bloomberg claiming that Apple’s chip unit, led by Johny Srouji, is playing a role in the car’s development, too, the people said.
Since 2018, Srouji’s team has been developing a custom Arm-based chip with a heavy focus on machine learning processing to power the underlying self-driving car system. That news was certainly an eyeopener.
For more on this, review the full Bloomberg report here, and review our archives for Project Titan patents here.