Apple has hired a former Ford executive to supply the iPhone manufacturer with automotive knowledge, indicating that the company’s long-rumored automobile project is still alive. Ford’s global head of safety engineering, Desi Ujkashevic, will join the software giant’s attempts to produce a fully electric driverless vehicle, which has been plagued by delays, regulatory hurdles, and senior departures. The hire was initially reported by Bloomberg, which cited anonymous sources.
Since joining Ford 31 years ago, Ujkashevic has worked in a variety of capacities, including creating electric cars, vehicle exteriors and interiors, and chassis components, according to her LinkedIn page. She’s worked on Ford and Lincoln SUVs as well as Ford’s Fiesta and Focus tiny automobiles. According to her bio on Ford’s website, she is currently responsible for all current and future program safety strategy (including autonomous cars), corporate rule-making, advanced strategy development, field service activities, and program safety compliance. She was previously the North American vehicle programs engineering director.
Ujkashevic may be able to assist Apple in navigating the regulatory difficulties it confronts while testing self-driving prototypes on public roads. Her technical and safety protocol knowledge can also assist Apple with its initiative. Since the Cupertino, California-based Corporation started its so-called Project Titan in 2014, it has poached from each other’s senior talent pool. The project is likely Silicon Valley’s best-kept secret, with suspicions about its existence circulating for years.
Apple CEO Tim Cook acknowledged the effort in 2017 and stated that the business was concentrating on autonomous driving technologies. In the five years following Cook’s statements, the most of the headlines from the program has been about new recruits or high-profile exits. Ford recruited Doug Field, an engineering leader who formerly oversaw Apple’s special projects division, in September to give the carmaker with software and advanced technology skills.
Field was replaced by Apple Watch lead Kevin Lynch, a former Tesla executive who helped develop the Model 3. Lynch stated that he plans to release an automobile in 2024. The collapse of Apple’s not-so-secret covert project, the Apple vehicle, was possibly exaggerated. According to a story from Reuters, Apple’s so-called Project Titan is not only alive and well, but it also has ambitions to develop an electric passenger vehicle with “breakthrough battery technology” and autonomous driving technology by 2024.
It is unknown what the vehicle will look like, who will manufacture it, or whether Apple’s self-driving technology will be integrated into the car or sold as a software product to other firms. The Reuters report follows another allegation from Taiwanese news site Economic Daily Times, which claims that Apple is increasing its orders for vehicle parts and components from local vendors. The stories, taken together, show that Apple, although being silent and working with a smaller staff, is still working on a vehicle.