Tech

Apple re-hires Tesla’s ex-engineering chief for its self-driving car unit

Tesla's former chief of engineering Doug Field has landed on his feet – back at his old firm Apple.

Field will be joining Apple to work on its self-driving car unit Project Titan, which until recently was shrouded in relative secrecy.

He previously worked at the firm on engineering Apple's Mac computers, alongside Titan's current head Bob Mansfield.

Field quit his role at Tesla in July after five years at the carmaker, where he was also a senior vice president, ending an extended leave of absence in the run-up to a management reshuffle at the company.

At the time when Field's absence was first reported in the press, Tesla's chief executive Elon Musk said Field wasn't going anywhere and was simply taking some time off to "recharge".

Read more: Tesla's engineering boss steps down as its share price wavers

Apple has kept information about its self-driving car project under a tight leash to date, however a court case filed against a former employee last month revealed some fresh details.

As many as 5,000 employees are currently working on Project Titan, with 2,700 of those staff holding access to secret databases.

The former employee in question, Xiaolang Zhang, is being sued by Apple for stealing trade secrets about Titan to take with him in a new role for Chinese rival Xmotors. Xmotors later ended its relationship with Zhang.

Read more: Legal case against ex-Apple worker reveals its self-driving car tech

According to the complaint made by Apple, Zhang was shown a "proprietary chip" by employees and was working on circuit boards that could have been part of a sensor fusion project, which involves using multiple sensors to make the cars more accurate in their decisions while in self-driving mode.

The fact that Apple provided this information to authorities as part of the complaint indicates that further technological details could come to light in court if the case goes further ahead. In its most recent development, Zhang has pleaded not guilty.

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