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Head Tesla engineer leaves for Apple to possibly reboot self-driving car

Tesla Model 3 SN1 Chill mode

In what seems like two calamities with Tesla within the span of less than a week — the first being CEO Elon Musk openly pitching the idea of making Tesla private again — Tesla is back in the news again, but this time, with a major departing of one of its key executives. Doug Field, now formerly a chief engineer for Tesla, reportedly left the company last month only to rejoin the company he worked prior to Tesla: Apple.

With the move, market analysts believe this could be a sign that Apple is rebooting its self-driving car project that once made waves through the media, only to fall dormant.

Prior to leaving, Field held the position of senior vice president of engineering at Tesla and was on a leave of absence before ultimately jumping ship. His departure from the company is being considered hugely disruptive since it occurred during a time when Tesla Motors is still struggling to pick up the pieces from its launch and production issues with the Model 3.

“After almost five years at Tesla, Doug Field is moving on,” a Tesla statement said. “We’d like to thank Doug for his hard work over the years and for everything he has done for Tesla.”

Field’s career at Apple began in 2008, where he spent five years as a lead hardware engineer for Mac computers and Apple’s general product design. Prior to work at Apple, Field held the position of chief technology officer at Segway. It wasn’t until 2013 that he joined Tesla as one of its top engineers.

Field’s move might be a big move, but so far, nobody really knows what this could truly mean for Apple.

With Field now back at Apple, that has everyone predicting that the company would be doubling down on its research and development for self-driving car technology. Speculation runs further to suggest that Field could potentially replace Bob Mansfield, a former chief engineer at Apple who took the reins to its car project, Project Titan, in 2016. Mansfield overhauled Apple’s original car plan, centering the focus on the car’s potential underlying technology rather than physical car hardware that the team originally began designing.

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