Benjamin Lyon, who recently led Apple’s self-driving electric car development team reporting directly to Doug Field, Apple’s vice president in charge of the car project, is leaving the company to join California-based space and satellite startup Astra (via Bloomberg).
Benjamin Lyon helped form Apple’s original autonomous electric car team in 2014 as its most senior manager working on sensors. He remained on the team through its various reboots over the past several years.
Lyon is leaving to join space and satellite startup Astra, the Alameda, California-based company said Wednesday in a statement.
According to the report, Lyon was one of 11 managers reporting to Field and was leading Apple’s work on the long-rumoured self-driving car. His departure from Apple at this time is a potential setback to the company’s efforts to eventually rival Tesla and others in the industry.
Apple also has multiple former top Tesla executives leading self-driving software, car drive train, and interior and external car hardware teams with the goal of launching a car sometime in the future.
The company is also on the hunt for a potential car and manufacturing partner to eventually launch its self-driving vehicle.