appointed Apple has one of its top software executives, Kevin Lynch, to oversee its nascent self-driving car project after the former boss left for Ford.
Lynch, an Adobe veteran who joined Apple in 2013 to manage the company’s suite of software for the company’s smartwatch and health efforts, replaced Doug Field as the vehicle’s chief operating officer.
The CEO began working on the project earlier this year when he took charge of teams dealing with the core programme.
But Lynch now oversees the entire group, which also includes hardware engineering and work on self-driving car sensors.
The change represents the latest change in the project’s turbulent history. Since the company embarked on its plan to develop a self-driving car around 2014, the endeavor has seen management changes, layoffs, and shifts in strategy, all shrouded in secrecy.
Lynch made his name for the company as Vice President of Technology, where he created watchOS. He also leads the development of health-related software, which includes the Health app on iPhone and research studies apps.
Lynch continues to contribute to Apple Watch efforts and health programs. But it has been less active in developing these products in recent months.
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Apple continues to develop the self-driving car project
It’s not clear if the company could benefit from a different leader for its efforts in the car, known internally as Project Titan, if it advanced far enough for the company to be confident of launching a fully autonomous vehicle.
Field’s departure to Ford was seen as a sign that the Apple car was not coming in the near future. Work on the product is still early days, with employees within the company anticipating that it won’t be launched for many years.
Field, who took over the car project in 2018, left to become a Ford executive responsible for the advanced technology business.
The choice of Lynch to head the car project indicates that much of the company’s focus remains on core software and autonomous technology, rather than the physical mechanics of the vehicle.
Lynch had been a software executive for decades, not someone who would oversee hardware teams. He also never worked for a car company.
This contrasts with previous CEOs. Steve Zadsky, the car’s first project manager, was an engineer at Ford earlier in his career. Meanwhile, Field was a senior Tesla executive before taking on the Apple project.
The company still has a few senior managers on the project who come from the automotive world. The team includes former Tesla executives who lead the car’s interior and exterior design, drivetrains and autonomous driving programs.
Earlier this year, Apple also hired Ulrich Kranz, who helped lead work on electric cars at BMW and co-founded Canoo Autonomous Vehicles. But the company lost several other managers, in addition to Feld.
John Gianandrea, the company’s head of artificial intelligence efforts, was chosen to oversee Field and the car project last year after former hardware chief Bob Mansfield retired. However, Lynch reports to Jeff Williams, the company’s chief operating officer.
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