Apple makes key staff changes to focus on 2019 initiatives

Apple has cut over 200 employees from Project Titan, its highly classified autonomous vehicle group, reports CNBC. An Apple spokesperson stated the company still sees “a huge opportunity with autonomous systems” but wants to turn their attention to other more pressing initiatives. This meant moving Project Titan staff to other parts of Apple or dismissing them completely.

“We have an incredibly talented team working on autonomous systems and associated technologies at Apple. As the team focuses their work on several key areas for 2019, some groups are being moved to projects in other parts of the company, where they will support machine learning and other initiatives, across all of Apple,” the spokesperson said.

Last August, Project Titan seemed to gain momentum with Apple’s hire of Tesla engineering vice president and Apple veteran, Doug Field. Field’s addition meant new leadership for the autonomous vehicle group, alongside Bob Mansfield. CNBC said the sudden lay off of Project Titan employees was “seen internally as anticipated restructuring under the relatively new leadership.”

Although Apple has not said outright what “key areas” needed more attention, CEO Tim Cook has hinted at the idea of new initiatives focused on health and wellbeing.

According to Bloomberg, the company also recently hired Soonho Ahn, an executive from battery making affiliate of Samsung Electronics Co., Samsung SDI Co. Ahn will be leading Apple’s battery work as the global head of battery developments. Anh brings extensive knowledge of lithium battery technology to Apple, serving as senior vice president of Samsung SDI since 2015.

In the past, Apple has used batteries from Samsung SDI to power its technology but is apparently trying to rid the need for third-party components, which may now include batteries. Additionally, Apple has been developing its own microLED display technology and processors, investigating the production of cellular modems, and is in talks to buy cobalt straight from miners.