Apple Car Update: Former Tesla Autopilot Software Director Hired By Apple

Rumors of the Apple Car have persisted for years now. Apple has yet to make any official announcement that they are working on an EV, but they continue to make moves behind the scenes that suggest an electric vehicle is in the company’s future. For proof, one just needs to look at Apple’s recent personnel acquisitions.

Apple hires former Tesla Autopilot software director. Is the Apple car coming sooner than later?

The front of the Apple Store in Santa Monica, CA. Recently it was revealed that Apple hired a former Tesla Autopilot software director. Is the Apple Car coming?
Apple Store on the 3rd Street Promenade in Santa Monica, California. | AaronP/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images

According to a recent Automotive News report, Apple has hired Christoper “CJ” Moore to work on its yet-to-be-confirmed “Apple Car.” Moore formerly worked as the Tesla Autopilot software director. When Moore was with Tesla, he reported to executive Stuart Bowers, who also left to join Apple. Bowers was the lead for Tesla’s Autopilot division before he left the EV maker in the middle of 2019.

Despite Apple’s reluctance to publicly admit that it is working on an electric vehicle, it seems clear by the team being built that an EV is on the way from the tech company. We feel confident speculating that it is squarely targeting Tesla as the benchmark for its upcoming vehicle. Furthermore, it appears that Apple wants its car to have a superior self-driving system to Tesla’s Autopilot. That seems like quite a lofty goal to achieve, even for a tech giant such as Apple.

Tesla’s Autopilot system is the result of thousands of hours of testing and gathering user data. Even today, there is the Tesla Full Self-Driving Beta program that treats its users as testers to refine and enhance the self-driving feature.

Even if Apple employs the same personnel that developed Tesla Autopilot, we struggle to see how they could produce a product on par with Autopilot without having the same amount of data to pull from. Apple must have some workaround, or the Apple Car is much farther out than analysts may think.

Apple has been making toward EV production for a while

As we previously mentioned, it seems clear that an Apple Car is on the way primarily based on the internal moves that the technology company has made within the last decade. To date, Apple has hired 1,000 automotive industry experts to work on something called “Project Titan” going back to 2014.

Then in 2017, Apple acquired a permit from the state of California to test autonomous vehicles on public roads. It is hard to think of a reason to request an autonomous vehicle testing permit in your company’s home state if you have no plans to build said autonomous vehicle.

It seems that Apple’s car is nearly inevitable at this point. All that remains is for the tech company to acknowledge its existence.

Some experts thought the Apple Car would be revealed in 2021

Lithium-ion battery scientist Akira Yoshino
Japanese scientist Akira Yoshino | Sasha Mordovets/Getty Images

As you might imagine, there are many eyes following the saga of the Apple Car, including industry experts. If Apple officially enters the electric car market, it could mean a significant shift for the industry. Thus it is prudent for professionals to follow what Apple does and anticipate what to do if and when Apple reveals its plans.

One such expert is Nobel Prize-winning scientist Akira Yoshino. Yoshino-san is a pioneer in chemistry for lithium-ion batteries. His work in that field contributed to the wide adoption of lithium-ion battery technology in EVs today.

In an interview, Yoshino-san predicted that Apple would reveal its EV at some point in 2021.

“The one to look out for is Apple,” said Yoshino-san. “ What will they do? I think they may announce something soon. And what kind of car would they announce? What kind of battery? They probably want to get in around 2025. If they do that, I think they have to announce something by the end of this year. That’s just my own personal hypothesis.”

It is the second week of November at the time this article is published, so we think it is unlikely that Yoshino-san’s prediction will end up being correct. However, stranger things have happened.

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