Tesla Engineer Jumps Ship To Join Apple

Apple is adding another senior automotive engineer -- this time from Tesla -- to its roster of people working on the closely guarded Project Titan autonomous vehicle project.

Nathan Eddy, Freelance Writer

August 23, 2015

3 Min Read
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In a move sure to add further speculation to its Project Titan self-driving car designs, Apple has hired Jamie Carlson, a former senior engineer at electric car manufacturer Tesla Motors.

In addition to his work at Tesla, Carlson had previously served as the principal engineer for L3 Communications, a communications, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (C3ISR) systems and products specialist, as well as the lead software development engineer for Gentex, a manufacturer of camera-based driver assistance systems for the automotive industry.

The move, first reported by Reuters, underscores Apple's commitment to the mysterious Project Titan as it continues to hire specialists from the automotive industry. Carlson is now listed as an employee of Apple under the heading Special Projects.

Before joining Apple, Carlson worked as an engineer with Tesla's self-driving car project. He did not respond to questions about the report, according to Reuters.

Speculation about Project Titan increased earlier this month when The Guardian newspaper reported on Apple's interest in GoMentum Station, a 5,000-acre, former Navy weapons station in California that features 20 miles of paved roadway.

The facility is used by automakers to test out self-driving vehicles, and has been used by companies such as Mercedes-Benz and Honda.

As it always does, Apple has not commented on any published reports regarding its interest in self-driving or autonomous vehicles. However, a string of stories from various publications seems to point toward a massive undertaking at Cupertino.

In July, The Wall Street Journal revealed that Doug Betts, a former global quality executive at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, has joined Apple, though Betts declined to comment when contacted by the paper.

A February report in Bloomberg described Apple's plans to enter the electronic vehicle market in 2020, according to unnamed sources who claim to have knowledge about Cupertino's plans.

While Tesla is clearly a target for Apple' s headhunters -- the company recently settled a lawsuit with a lithium-ion battery manufacturer after Apple poached its employees -- there is one man working there who doesn't appear to mind the competition.

"I certainly hope Apple gets into the car business," Tesla CEO Elon Musk reportedly said on a May earnings call. "That would be great."

In addition to luring top tech talent, Apple is also reportedly reaching out to automakers with electric car experience to help it with Project Titan.

[Read more about Apple's interest in electric and autonomous vehicles.]

In July, the International Business Times reported Apple is interested in partnering with BMW to use its i3 electric car as a platform for Apple's own vehicle. Apple CEO Tim Cook even went to BMW's production line for the i3, located in Leipzig, Germany, to take a tour of the facilities.

The German automaker had earlier sought to downplay the connection with Apple, releasing a statement saying what while the two companies had been in contact, production or development of a car was not in the cards.

"We are in regular talks with companies from the IT and telecommunications sector, including Apple, concerning topics like connected vehicles," the statement, reported in IBT, said. "Developing or building a car is not a topic of these discussions."

About the Author(s)

Nathan Eddy

Freelance Writer

Nathan Eddy is a freelance writer for InformationWeek. He has written for Popular Mechanics, Sales & Marketing Management Magazine, FierceMarkets, and CRN, among others. In 2012 he made his first documentary film, The Absent Column. He currently lives in Berlin.

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