Amid layoffs, testing and a shift toward software, Apple's self-driving car project dubbed Project Titan is facing a substantial reboot.
The self-driving car race is on and a number of heavyweight companies are betting big on autonomous driving. Apple is one of the contenders and it's apparently rethinking and readjusting its strategy.
According to The New York Times, the company is laying off a number of employees as part of the Project Titan reboot.
"In a retrenchment of one of its most ambitious initiatives, Apple has shuttered parts of its self-driving car project and laid off dozens of employees, according to three people briefed on the move who were not allowed to speak about it publicly," reports the NYT.
Despite the reboot, Apple reportedly made progress with the project and has already started real-world testing of fully autonomous vehicles in a closed environment. The technology will likely not be ready to go mainstream for a few years, however.
Moreover, Apple is also shifting from building its own electric self-driving vehicle to developing autonomous driving software. This refocus is part of Bob Mansfield's plan as the new leader of Project Titan. Mansfield came out of retirement specifically to lead this division, as former Titan leader Steven Zadesky left Apple earlier this year. The layoffs are part of this plan as well, as Mansfield reportedly wants to refine the focus of the Titan division.
The news of the reboot falls in line with a previous report from Bloomberg back in July, when the publication first reported on Apple's change in strategy. Issues had been piling up at Project Titan as Apple struggled to develop both a car and self-driving software at the same time, so a focus on software seemed plausible.
The latest report from the NYT bolsters such claims. If the company hit a wall when it comes to developing its own car, it makes sense for it to focus on autonomous driving software first and maybe build on that later on.
Apple is still very secretive about Project Titan and it remains unclear for now just how things will unfold, or when the company will be ready to make an official announcement in this regard.
Nevertheless, Apple is facing some heavy competition on the scene, as notable rivals such as Google Ford, GM, Tesla, Uber and others are also working on self-driving cars and technology.
Will Apple be able to see the same success with its self-driving car project as it does with its iDevices? We'll see. For now, it still has a long way to go.