We haven’t heard much about Apple’s long-rumored car program lately, but it’s suddenly back in the headlines following reports that the tech giant has hired Tesla’s senior manager of design Andrew Kim.
According to Kim’s LinkedIn profile, he left the automaker last month after working on a number of different vehicles including upcoming the Roadster and Model Y. The profile goes on to say he joined Apple earlier this month and will be working as a designer.
While it’s possible that Kim’s hiring might not have anything to do with his automotive background, as he’s previously worked for Microsoft, it’s interestingly as Apple has reportedly been hiring dozens of former Tesla employees.
While the Apple car rumor mill has slowed down significantly over the past year, the tech giant hasn’t been shy about its efforts to develop autonomous driving technology. Last year, CEO Tim Cook said Apple was “very focused on autonomous systems” and has made a “big investment” in a large project that is currently underway.
Apple hasn’t said much about its plans since then, but the company was rumored to be leasing Chrysler’s former proving grounds in Arizona as part of their autonomous driving effort. The company has also filed a handful of patents related to autonomous driving technology including one for a navigation system and another for signaling other road users about an autonomous vehicle’s intentions.
Apple has also grown its autonomous driving fleet as documents from the California Department of Motor Vehicles showed the company had 55 vehicles approved for testing back in May.
Apple’s endgame still remains a mystery, but its competitors aren’t sitting idly by. Earlier this month, Google’s Waymo announced the launch of its self-driving taxi service which will be available in Arizona cities such as Phoenix, Chandler, Tempe, and Mesa.
H/T to The Verge