Apple Secures BlackBerry QNX Chief As Project Titan Focus Shifts To Autonomous Driving

Last week we reported that Apple’s self-driving car project, code-named “Project Titan”, was experiencing a big shakeup. This week, however, it seems that Apple is trying to get the ball, or should we say tire rolling. Apple, has hired former QNX co-founder and chief executive officer Dan Dodge in order to further the project. Dodge is now part of a team headed by former Apple hardware chief Bob Mansfield.

dan dodge devcon 2010
Dan Dodge at DevCon 2010

Dodge co-founded QNX in 1980 as a student at the University of Waterloo in Canada. The company was sold to Harman International Industries Inc. in 2004 and then Blackberry in 2010. QNX makes connected-device systems for Volkswagen AG, Daimler AG, Ford Motor Company. Apple reportedly will be opening a research and development center near QNX’s headquarters in Canada later this year.

Apple also appears to be collecting former Ford employees. Aindrea Campbell, who was a manager in the body construction engineering team and previously headed a group which researched lightweight materials used in vehicles, joined Apple in September 2015. Her co-worker Todd Gray joined the team this past May. He helped to build the systems used to manufacture the aluminum body of the F-150 truck.

The team has now prioritized the development of an autonomous driving system software, instead of its own vehicles. This would allow Apple to partner or purchase an established vehicle manufacturer and risk less of its investments.

Apple’s revitalized self-driving car agenda is partly due to falling sales elsewhere. Within the past year, iPhone sales fell for the first time year-over-year since the phone’s launch in 2007. Profits dropped 27% to $7.8 billion USD during the most recently completed quarter, while revenue dropped roughly 14% to $42.4 billion USD. Apple blamed economic uncertainty and people not upgrading their phones as often for the decrease, however, Samsung experienced an unprecedented number of smartphone sales.