Rumor: Apple rethinking its self-driving car project

Apple is “rethinking” what it plans to do about self-driving cars, reports The New York Times. The company has shuttered parts of its “Apple Car” project and laid off dozens of employees, the article adds quoting three unnamed “people briefed on the move who were not allowed to speak about it publicly.” Keep in mind that the company has never confirmed any automotive plans beyond its CarPlay initiative.

In July, Apple lured Bob Mansfield,  a former senior vice president of technologies, to take over the project, code-named “Titan.” Under his guidance, Apple reportedly changed the focus of the project, shifting from an emphasis on designing and producing an automobile to building out the underlying technology for an autonomous vehicle. 

In May The Wall Street Journal reported that Apple is among companies looking for large expanses of real estate in the San Francisco Bay Area for their autonomous-car operations. Quoting Victor Coleman, chief executive of Hudson Pacific Properties,the articleApple is looking for an 800,000 square foot facilities. The WSJ added that the tech company is s in the process of expanding a team that had about 600 employees last year, “according to people familiar with the matter.”

Another recent Apple hire has been linked to the Apple Car project. As noted by Quartz, Kurt Adelberger is named on a pending Google patent for a "Mediator device for smart electric vehicle charging" alongside three other inventors, including machine learning software engineer Matthew Wytock. According to his LinkedIn profile, Adelberger left Google in July 2015 to join Apple as a "product designer.”

In case you haven’t heard all the speculation about an Apple Car, I’ll give you an updated. The Wall Street Journal says Apple’s car project is code-named “Titan.” Bloomberg Business claims that Apple, “which has been working secretly on a car, is pushing its team to begin production of an electric vehicle as early as 2020.” 9to5Mac has compiled a list of automotive experts hired by Apple and says “it’s clear Apple’s ambitions go well beyond just its iOS-based CarPlay in-dash system.” BGR notes any “Applemobile” will likely be an electric car of some kind, especially given Apple CEO Tim Cook’s dedication to expanding the use of greener energy.