Apple takes on Tesla by hiring its former Autopilot software director

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Apple hasn’t been all that vocal about its electric car project, but according to Bloomberg, the iPhone maker is hiring Tesla’s Autopilot software engineer to work on its EVs. Sources close to the matter told Bloomberg that Apple scooped up Christopher “CJ” Moore to work on its self-driving software. He’ll report to Stuart Bowers, another Tesla ex-pat who previously served as the vice president of engineering.

During his time at Tesla, Moore stirred up controversy for calling CEO Elon Musk’s “full self-driving” claims exaggerated. In January, Musk stated that he was “highly confident the car will be able to drive itself with reliability in excess of human this year.” The full self-driving software, currently in beta, does not make a Tesla vehicle fully autonomous, as a driver must keep control of the vehicle at all times.

Moore pointed out that Tesla is currently at Level 2, referring to the vehicle’s level of autonomy — Level 2 means that the car still requires supervision from the driver, while Level 5 signifies full autonomy. Moore has since been called as a witness to the fiery Tesla crash in April that left two people dead. Initial reports suggested there was no one in the driver’s seat, but the National Transportation Safety Board said last month that its investigation showed the driver’s seat was occupied in that incident.

Apple’s electric car project, codenamed Project Titan, remains shrouded in secrecy. We do know, however, that Apple has been hiring EV experts from other companies — especially Tesla.

After Ford hired away the head of Apple’s car project, Doug Field, Apple replaced him with former Adobe CTO and Apple Watch executive Kevin Lynch. Apple also hired Ulrich Kranz, the co-founder of Canoo who helped BMW on its i3 and i8 programs. Apple previously poached designer Andrew Kim from Tesla, along with Tesla’s drive systems expert Michael Schwekutsch and car interiors/exteriors engineering vice president Steve MacManus.



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