Apple Car: Bob Mansfield Shifts Focus To Autonomous Driving

A few days ago, longtime Apple exec Bob Mansfield took over the secret Apple car project. Since taking over the leadership of the Project Titan, Mansfield has changed the priorities. Sources familiar with the matter told Bloomberg that he is prioritizing the development of an autonomous driving system, though the company is not going to abandon the efforts to design its own full-fledged car.

Apple car: A two-prong approach

Sources told Bloomberg that Apple hired Dan Dodge earlier this year. Dodge is now part of the team led by Bob Mansfield. Dan Dodge is the founder and former CEO of QNX, which was acquired by BlackBerry in 2010. Mansfield’s move to focus on autonomous driving system means the company could buy or partner with an established automaker instead of building the car in-house.

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Dodge’s QNX developed BlackBerry’s mobile operating system. It has also developed in-car infotainment, connected-device, and navigation system that is used by leading automakers including Daimler, Volkswagen, Ford and many others. Dodge reports directly to Mansfield, and Mansfield answers to Tim Cook. The previous head of the Project Titan, Steve Zadesky, reported to hardware chief Dan Riccio.

Apple setting up R&D center in Ottawa

The Apple car was previously rumored to arrive in 2020. But that deadline has been pushed back by a year due to several high-profile departures, confusion regarding the direction of the project, and technical issues. The company reportedly has more than a thousand engineers working on the Apple car. The Cupertino company’s R&D spending during the latest quarter surged to $2.6 billion.

Apple is setting up an R&D center near QNX headquarters in Ottawa to tap into the town’s automotive software talent. Experts believe that the Apple car could be late to the party. Tesla has established itself as the front-runner in electric vehicle and autonomous driving technology. There could be many more players in the market by the time Apple car hits the road.