Apple has poached Andrew Kim, a senior designer at Tesla, reported The Verge.
According to the report, citing Kim's LinkedIn profile, Kim said he joined Apple in December, while his Instagram account confirms that he started at the Cupertino, California iPhone maker last week. The report also noted that along with the recent news that Tesla's Chief Vehicle Engineer Doug Field was heading back to Apple, Kim's move should spark rumors and speculation that Apple has again set its sights on creating a self-driving vehicle.
Kim, who was at Microsoft before landing at Tesla, worked on the designs of several Tesla cars, including the Model 3, S, X and Y and the Roadster V2 and the Semi, reported The Verge. He was quoted as saying last year that at Tesla, he was focused on designing the cabin space for the Model 3.
While Apple has had interest in self-driving vehicles for years, reports surfaced in 2016 that it shut down that development to focus on software to power autonomous cars that could be used by automakers. While Apple's CEO Tim Cook has talked about bringing autonomy to more than cars, the hiring of Kim – months after Field jumped ship for Apple – could imply that Apple is changing its direction. The report noted that it is possible Kim could be working on the user experience of self-driving software that Apple is developing rather than a physical car.
Back in the summer, reports surfaced that Field was back at Apple after being in charge of production of the Model 3 at Tesla. At that time, rumors indicated that Field would work with Bob Mansfield, the head of Apple’s “Project Titan” – which many industry observers believe is Apple’s code name for the car project. Apple also recently applied for a patent request for an AR-enhanced windshield.