Apple hires Tesla's Autopilot software director
- Apple has hired Christopher Moore to join its self-driving car team.
- He joins many other ex-Tesla employees on this team.
Apple hired a former Tesla Inc. engineer who sparked controversy earlier this year for comments about the company's Autopilot feature, bolstering its car-development efforts.
According to people familiar with the situation, Apple hired Christopher "CJ" Moore to join its team working on self-driving cars. Moore is working on the software for the project and reports to Stuart Bowers, a former Tesla executive who joined Apple at the end of last year. Before departing in mid-2019, Bowers led Tesla's Autopilot team.
Apple's move indicates that it is forging ahead with efforts to develop self-driving technology, a high-stakes race with automakers like Tesla. Moore will join a division known for its secrecy (Apple has never revealed its car plans publicly) and high turnover. Apple's car project manager, codenamed Titan, left the company earlier this year to lead Ford's technology efforts.
Apple, based in Cupertino, California, did not respond to a request for comment to Bloomberg.
Moore suggested that Elon Musk, Tesla's CEO, had exaggerated the capabilities of the Autopilot software. Moore was interviewed by the California Department of Motor Vehicles earlier this year as part of their investigation into self-driving software. Moore was questioned by the department about Musk's claim that Teslas will be capable of fully autonomous driving this year.
According to a DMV memo summarizing the conversation, Moore responded by saying Musk's statements didn't "match engineering reality." For years, Musk has claimed that Tesla is on the verge of releasing so-called Level 5 autonomy features, which would allow cars to operate without the need for human intervention.
The current system, known as Level 2, mandates that drivers keep their hands on the steering wheel at all times.
Moore has recently been named as a witness in a lawsuit filed by the estate of a Florida man who died in a 2019 crash while using Autopilot. Moore had left Tesla, according to legal documents filed in the case in October.
Kevin Lynch, who led software engineering for the Apple Watch from the beginning, has recently replaced Doug Field, the former project head. Ulrich Kranz, the former CEO of autonomous car startup Canoo, is one of the company's other notable hires from the automotive world.
Other ex-Tesla executives on the Apple team include Michael Schwekutsch, the company's former drive trains chief, and Steve MacManus, the company's former interiors head. Several managers have left the company at the same time. Aside from Field, this year's departures include Dave Scott, the head of robotics, and Jaime Waydo, the chief of safety. Dave Rosenthal, another former project manager, recently left Apple after previously leaving the project.
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