Apple is shaking up its team building autonomous vehicle technology.
The company has reportedly laid off over 200 employees from Project Titan, the code name for its project focused on autonomous systems, according to CNBC.
The news comes at a time when Apple’s core iPhone business is expecting slower than expected sales growth.
An Apple (AAPL) spokesman reached for comment did not confirm nor dispute the report but shared a statement describing a staff reshuffling.
“As the team focuses their work on several key areas for 2019, some groups are being moved to projects in other parts of the company,” the statement said. “We continue to believe there is a huge opportunity with autonomous systems, that Apple has unique capabilities to contribute, and that this is the most ambitious machine learning project ever.”
Apple is among the big tech and car companies developing autonomous vehicle technology, which is widely expected to transform transportation worldwide. In April 2017, Apple received a permit to test self-driving vehicles in California.
Apple’s Project Titan project has attracted talent like Doug Field, who previously developed vehicles at Tesla, Ford and Segway, and Julian Honig, who designed cars at Audi.
But how significant an impact the changes will have on Apple’s ambitions remain unclear. The company has kept a low profile, saying little about its ambitions for autonomous systems. Previous reports have pointed to Apple trimming staff and scaling back efforts to develop an autonomous vehicle.
Apple had approximately 132,000 employees as of Sept. 29, 2018, according to a company filing.
Earlier this month, Apple warned that its sales would suffer due to lower than anticipated iPhone sales in China.
As its smartphone business faces questions, autonomous vehicles don’t appear to offer a quick solution to Apple’s woes. The technology isn’t emerging as fast as many suggested.
Waymo, the self-driving arm of Google’s parent company, has launched a limited public service in Chandler, Arizona, following a decade of research. GM, which said it would test autonomous vehicles in New York City in early 2018, has yet to do so.
A long road of resolving technical, regulatory and social challenges associated with unleashing fully autonomous on roads appears to remain ahead.