Apple Loses Key Autos Engineer To Electric Aviation Startup Archer

Michael Schwekutsch, a director of engineering in the Apple Special Projects Group that's reportedly working on self-driving cars, has left to join electric air taxi start-up Archer as its senior VP of engineering. Schwekutsch noted the change on his LinkedIn page on Wednesday. CNBC reports: The move is the latest example of staff turnover in Apple's secretive car project. Former VP of special projects Doug Field left in September to lead Ford's emerging technology efforts, a priority for the legacy automaker under its new Ford+ turnaround plan. The move also indicates that tech start-ups attacking climate issues can attract the most qualified engineers. A former VP of engineering at Tesla, Schwekutsch holds more than 100 patents related to vehicle design, worked on prototypes for the Tesla Plaid systems, and led production of electric drive systems for several vehicle models from Tesla, Porsche, BMW and others, according to his online resume. Archer is working on electric-powered air taxis that take off and land vertically. Like competitors Lilium and Joby Aviation, Archer aims to transport passengers on short trips, avoiding traffic on the ground and the noise and emissions generated by traditional fuel-burning aircraft and cars. It's already developed a model known as the Maker that can carry one passenger and a pilot, and is working on a four-passenger model. The company aims to operate urban air mobility services starting in Los Angeles once its aircraft are cleared by the Federal Aviation Administration for commercial use. Founded in 2018 and based in Palo Alto, Calif., Archer went public in September after merging with a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC), Atlas Crest Investment Corp.

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