Key employee exits Apple Car development program

A long-time Apple engineer and manager left the Apple Car project to work on space tech.
Photo: Mihai Paraschiv/Pixabay CC

Benjamin Lyon left Apple after being with the company for 21 years. He worked on a variety of products, but most recently he’d been a senior director in the team working on the Apple Car.

But he’s going to go be a rocket engineer instead.

Two decades with Apple

Lyon’s LinkedIn profile shows that he joined Apple in May, 1999. He spent some time as a technical lead on trackpads, and later became a senior manager in sensing hardware. Over the years, he worked on core technologies for iPhone, iPad and Mac.

In April 2014, he joined Apple’s Special Projects Group as a Senior Director. The SPG is where the company works on “hush hush” products it’s not ready to make public yet. 2014 is the year Apple started developing an autonomous vehicle, and Lyon worked on sensor technology for the Apple Car, according to Bloomberg.

From Apple Car to outer space

But not any more. Astra announced Wednesday that Lyon is its new Chief Engineer. The startup’s mission is to productize and mass-produce spaceports, rockets and satellites. And build a space services platform.

“Astra presents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to apply my experience designing and manufacturing beautiful products to ignite a new wave of innovation in the space industry,” said Lyon.

Apple autonomous vehicle could be coming around the bend

Even though the Mac-maker has been hard at work on a self-driving car since 2014, there’s been a flurry of leaks about the company’s plans recently. Apple has supposedly been in talks with several car makers about manufacturing. Nissan was the most recent to make headlines, but negations may have already stalled.

Still, a trusted analyst reports that Cupertino’s self-driving car could be on the road as early as 2025. But it’ll cost even more than ordinary non-autonomous electric vehicles.