By on August 22, 2015

Apple Logo Circa 2005

Expert marketing company, and sometimes computer-maker, Apple has poached an automated car engineer from Tesla to join its growing roster of robot car builders, Reuters is reporting.

According to Jamie Carlson’s LinkedIn profile, the former Tesla engineer has joined Apple in “Special Projects.” Carlson is the seventh high-profile hire for the Cupertino-based company who has specific automotive experience. Carlson joins a former Volkswagen engineer, a Chrysler VP and the former deputy director of autonomous systems at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, among others, at Apple.

Maybe they’re all working in the cafeteria?

Tesla CEO Elon Musk has address the fact that a few of his employees have left Tesla to work at Apple. In May, Musk said he welcomed whatever “special project” Apple would be working on and said that he had poached employees from Apple at a rate of about 5-to-1.

“I actually hope Apple gets into the car business, that would be great,” Musk said.

Reportedly, Apple has dubbed their secret car program “Titan,” although many insiders believe that is the name for the company’s mapping program. Whatever it’s called, they’re hiring a lot of people who know a lot about cars to do — something.

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22 Comments on “Apple Hiring All The Robot Car Experts Now...”


  • avatar
    Speed3

    The iCar is coming and Apple has some deep pocket$. If I were GM or any other mediocre OEM, I’d be pretty nervous.

    • 0 avatar
      RideHeight

      No sarc switch?

      That avatar is affecting you.

    • 0 avatar
      Joss

      Add too the traditional transportation companies who rely on Detroit to bring them the latest technology. They could both get eaten out from beneath.

      Chrysler’s a good example. Healthy profits & new model price rises. But fines to pay and limited R & D. Not well positioned for the next downturn or energy spike.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    Having $200+ billion in unburdened cash lets you hire a lot of experts and do a lot of research.

    • 0 avatar
      VoGo

      Oh no. All our base are belong to Apple.

    • 0 avatar
      pdq

      You can hire experts all day, but that is no guarantee of success. Example A: Explain the loud thud that was the Apple Watch. Or consider the less than enthusiastic response to Apple Music. People don’t buy watches anymore – whether or not they have an Apple logo on them. People may not want to buy self-driving cars either.

      If cash reserves guaranteed success, the Chevy Vega, Chevy Corvair and Cadillac Cimarron all would have been runaway successes.

  • avatar
    James2

    While I get that Apple would like to pioneer new technology, when they figure out that they can’t get their customary 500-percent markup on the iCar the ghost of Steve Jobs will tell them to go back to working on iPhones instead.

    • 0 avatar
      Master Baiter

      “…500-percent markup on the iCar the ghost of Steve Jobs will tell them to go back to working on iPhones instead.”

      “There’s no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share. No chance.” – Steve Ballmer, 2007.

      • 0 avatar
        Pig_Iron

        iApple are masters of marketeering. The iCar could be the end of American domestics, because after the line-ups at the iCar store have waned, the others will buy the Chinese clone thanks to the low, low tariffs of the TPP. You may have just forecast the future Master Baiter.

  • avatar
    anomaly149

    They’ve been headhunting across the industry like mad. All sorts of professions, from crash safety to manufacturing engineering. You don’t need those trades if all you’re in it for is CarPlay.

    What I can’t fathom is why they’re looking to get into the automaking game. Singledigit margins are the rule. They’re going from a low infrastructure high margin business to a high infrastructure low margin business with the trite statement that they’re going to “revolutionize” it. How? Find a way to get people to pay more for less? (though granted, Tesla has managed to sell a poorly made product for a ton of money…)

    And even if they succeed in the marketplace, and make something like Porsche, they’re looking at a comparatively low margin business unit. Just look at the whole JCI Seating & Interiors situation for how well that sits with the shareholders.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Uber did the same thing to Carnegie Mellon University this past spring, here in Pittsburgh:

    http://www.wsj.com/articles/is-uber-a-friend-or-foe-of-carnegie-mellon-in-robotics-1433084582

    I’m two degrees from people who jumped. Uber blitzkreiged in and took a bunch of people in no time.

  • avatar

    I’m more interested in Google’s cars as I think their sole purpose in autonomous transit is to get people to spend more time in front of their screen and Google’s advertising.

    Im honestly wondering if Google is somehow going to subsidize car/ride costs by serving ads….

    With Google’s cars they are going to know your destination and can advertise accordingly… This opens up many advertising opportunities in the “offline” world like restaurants, dry cleaners etc…which is important because more and more people are just buying actual goods online from Amazon instead of searching on Google.

  • avatar
    krhodes1

    Second only to the airline industry, the car industry is about the best way to make a small fortune out of a large one.

    Good luck to Apple, they are going to need it.

  • avatar
    Trend-Shifter

    Here is my speculation and vision…

    Apple will design and build totally self driving electric cars.
    You will never be able to buy one.

    The self driving electric cars will only be used as a taxi service in dense city applications around the world.

    The design will be boxey, white, and have a tech friendly interior.
    They can use a standard roller skate frame system with a variable wheel base. They just need to change the body/interior to create different models.

    The user will request the self driving car using an app similar to Uber (or buy Uber)to be picked up. Because you have already input your location and desired destination a car with enough charge and within the closest proximity will pick you up.

    The self driving electric car will be smart enough to know it’s range and know when to return to strategically placed chargers.
    These chargers will automatically charge the battery.

    So 100% robotic cars working 24/7.

    The car design could be modular so that assemblies could easily be changed out as the self driving car determines wear or by scheduled inspections.
    Think about brakes and bearings… Remove 4 bolts and plug in an electrical connector. Done! Have the rebuilt or new brake/bearing sub-assemblies on the shelve. Same for the electric drive system & battery.

    So the car is just the means to get the taxi business. Just like the iphone was the means to get the music and app business.

    Apple, hire me 8^)

    Sidenote: Alphabet/Google should buy into an automaker to make that happen. This because you know the automakers would not just want the utility side of this business model to make cars for Alphabet/Google. They will want a piece of the pie. Maybe a partnership?
    An established automaker can bring this self driving car to market quicker than Apple starting from scratch.

    Think Amazon deliveries and UPS next

    • 0 avatar
      kosmo

      That is some pretty interesting, non-cynical, analysis.

      You do realize you’re on TTAC, right?!

      • 0 avatar
        Trend-Shifter

        Thanks!
        Actually I think all this hiring by Apple is just a feasibility study of the business model I outlined above.

        This is bigger than just a taxi service, this business model could basically end car ownership as we know it.
        Shared electric cars for the city and gas powered for trips.

        So if the business model is deemed feasible, look for Apple to buy into an automaker and create a new division. I think the buy candidate would be a Detroit automaker. This gives them access to gas and electric cars, engineering, the supplier base, and the vehicles could be manufactured along the I-75 corridor.
        They also have manufacturing around the world (i.e. China)

        Meanwhile I will keep and modify my Miata as my forever car so I can self-drive it at the track, Rene

    • 0 avatar
      frozenman

      Comments like this is why I have bookmarked this site, brings me back from the dark side after wandering thru the verbal garbage at MT/CD. Thanks.

    • 0 avatar
      anomaly149

      My best guess is that Google is getting into the car business in the same way it got into the phone and tablet business: to establish a minimum acceptable quality of product running the Google platform.

      I really don’t understand extending the Apple stuff to car sharing, it’s far more likely that Apple is looking to sell cars to individuals. Much more volume, more ability for customers to brag to their neighbors about the newest iCar model, and doesn’t require changing ownership patterns. Traditional taxis never supplanted personal automobile ownership, I don’t see self-driving changing that much.

      However, that being said, they’re 100% in this for making cars. They’re not hiring these guys to work on CarPlay, and they’re headhunting all over the industry.

    • 0 avatar
      piffpaff

      This is a good article about (among other things) whether Apple or Google will rule the new car industry.

      http://ben-evans.com/benedictevans/2015/7/27/ways-to-think-about-cars

    • 0 avatar
      Master Baiter

      You do realize that self driving cars don’t exist, right? And they won’t in our lifetime.

      • 0 avatar
        mcs

        >> You do realize that self driving cars don’t exist, right? And they won’t in our lifetime.

        Well, the autopilot type that depends on a human being able to take over when there’s a problem is starting to arrive on the scene now. The fully autonomous snooze in the back seat while it drives you home type is a ways off. Crap loads of issues with sensors to be solved, intuitive ai that needs lots of work, and legal issues that make the tech issues seem simple. Besides, an autonomous car isn’t what’s needed. A robotic personal assistant that starts off by walking at slow speeds to perform errands is a better first step. Then eventually develop it to a point where it can drive. It’s the direction that DARPA is pushing us in and makes more sense than a dedicated autonomous car.

        From the DARPA Challenge:

        “https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BGOUSvaQcBs”

  • avatar
    mcs

    Just saw this ad on tv – had to post it here:

    “https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WnBOeNbslGU”

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