Apple hires Tesla’s former AutoPilot software director
According to the Bloomberg news agency, electronics giant Apple has hired another high-ranking Tesla engineer for its Titan project; former AutoPilot software director Christopher ‘CJ’ Moore. As always, Apple declines to comment on its plans for a self-driving car.
Moore will work under Stuart Bowers, another Tesla exec, who served as vice president of engineering and working on the AutoPilot, who joined Apple last year. Two other former Tesla execs, chief of drive trains, Michael Schwekutsch, and the head of interiors Steve MacManus, already joined Apple earlier.
Exaggerating AutoPilot’s capabilities
Apparently, Christopher Moore left Tesla in October, after declaring to the California Department of Motor Vehicles in an interview concerning Tesla’s AutoPilot capabilities that “Elon Musk’s statements didn’t match engineering reality.”
Musk told on several occasions he believes Tesla is ‘close to achieving fully autonomous driving’, which means the car could do without a human driver behind the wheel in well-defined circumstances (Level 4) or all circumstances (Level 5).
Rather SAE Level 2
Today Tesla’s AutoPilot requires the driver to keep its hands on the wheel at any time (Level 2), like in most cars with ADAS (Advanced Driver Assistance Systems). Even the next beta version of AutoPilot, ‘FSD’ software (Full Self Driving as Tesla calls it), is believed to be somewhat between Levels 2 and 3.
The latter allows the driver to take his eyes off the road and his hands of the wheel in specific driving conditions when considered safe by the software.
Shrouded in secrecy
Meanwhile, Apple’s Titan project has remained shrouded in secrecy ever since news broke in 2014 that the smartphone maker wanted to venture into developing an autonomous car. But with more than 100 patents registered in that field, it’s clear Apple isn’t giving up the idea.
It looked like Apple abandoned the plan at one point to focus on software only, but in 2018, it hired back veteran Doug Field to become Vice-President of the ‘Special Projects Group’.
Doug Field was Apple’s VP for its Mac computers engineering when he left the company for Tesla, where he stayed five years until 2018 as Senior Vice-President Engineering. Field took over the Titan Project and started by firing 190 people of the team in restructuring it.
Meanwhile, Doug Field packed his suitcases again and headed towards Ford, where he got the title of chief advanced technology and embedded systems officer. Apple continued reeling in other engineers from the automotive sector.
Former BMW senior vice president
A few months ago, Apple hired Ulrich Kranz, co-founder and former CEO of electric utility vehicle startup Canoo. Before that, Kranz was BMW’s senior vice president for the electric division that developed the i3 and i8.
In July 2017, he moved to Los Angeles, California, to become Faraday Future’s Chief Technology Officer. But his passage to the struggling luxury EV startup lasted only four months.
Kranz co-founded with another ex-BMW exec hired by Faraday as CFO, Stefan Krause, and seven others their EV startup called Evelozcity. That eventually became Canoo, the electric lifestyle vehicle Dutch contract car manufacturer VDL Nedcar will start building for the startup in 2022.
After Canoo went public this year, Tony Aquila took over from Kranz as CEO of the Torrance California-based company in April 2021, and Kranz left for Apple.