The team’s engineers are now reporting to John Giannandrea, the company’s head of artificial intelligence, who also oversees Siri’s digital voice assistant.
Giannandrea, the former head of search and artificial intelligence at Google, joined Apple in 2018.
His appointment was seen as a huge deal for Apple, which has struggled for years to make progress in fast-moving and important areas of artificial intelligence, such as computer vision and natural language processing.
Giannandrea reports directly to CEO (Tim Cook) as Tim Cook responsible for machine learning and AI strategy.
Little is known about the Project Titan autonomous car project, but Gianandrea is now overseeing the company’s further development of its autonomous system that can be used in its own vehicle.
And unlike most of its competitors, the company has been tough about the standalone cars it tests in California.
After starting with the goal of developing a self-driving car designed for this purpose, plans were later curtailed to developing software only, as Apple partnered with car manufacturers, such as Volkswagen, to provide the devices.
There was also legal tragedy, in which in 2019 the FBI accused an Apple employee, a Chinese citizen, of trying to steal trade secrets related to the company’s self-driving car project.
This was the second time that the government accused an Apple employee of trying to steal autonomous driving secrets in the past seven months, and Apple has fired about 200 employees from the project.
In June 2019, Apple acquired Drive.ai, a self-driving start-up, and Apple bought the company’s assets, including autonomous cars, and hired several Drive.ai engineers.
Apple has tested the technology on public roads in the San Francisco Bay Area since 2017, and last year the company’s cars drove an average of about 118 miles before the human safety driver had to take over.
Apple earlier this year submitted a report to the California Department of Motor Vehicles that showed it had drastically reduced public road testing in 2019.
After driving nearly 80,000 miles in 2018, the company registered just 7,544 miles in 2019, and now has 66 cars in its fleet.