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Apple's self-driving program nets former Waymo engineer

It could be a pretty big hire for Apple, which has lagged behind its competitors in the AV space.

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Maybe Ms. Waydo just got tired of having a last name so close to her employer's name.
Gabrielle Lurie/AFP/Getty Images

Apple's self-driving-car program might not have the luster of Waymo or other high-profile companies, but that doesn't mean it can't attract some proper talent.

Apple has hired Jaime Waydo, a former senior engineer with Waymo, The Information reports, citing a source familiar with the hire. Apple did not immediately return a request for comment, but it did confirm Waydo's hire to The Information. A Waymo spokeswoman sent a statement that wished Ms. Waydo well in her future endeavors.

According to The Information, Ms. Waydo was a rather high-profile engineer, being in charge of systems engineering and ensuring the safety of Waymo's prototypes. She was apparently involved in Waymo's launch in Phoenix, followed by its decision to remove human drivers from the equation entirely. Prior to Waymo, she was a senior engineer at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Apple's hire could signal that the company is ready to begin verifying its own platform for expansion, but it's not clear what position Waydo holds and what she has say over.

The tech giant's self-driving efforts, referred to as Project Titan, have lagged behind those of competitors like Waymo, General Motors and even Uber. According to reports, Apple had originally planned to create an entire self-driving car, only to scale back its aspirations a couple of years ago. It's now reportedly focused on a platform that it can develop and sell to automakers that lack the time, funds or manpower to develop an independent system. It's a smart move, as developing a new car from the ground up can cost billions of dollars before anything like autonomy even enters the picture.

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