Apple Inc.’s self-driving car team lost one of its longest-serving leaders, a potential setback to the technology giant’s efforts to eventually rival Tesla Inc. and others in the industry.
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, and most recently led a self-driving car sensors team reporting directly to Doug Field, Apple’s vice president in charge of the car project.
Bloomberg News identified Lyon as one of 11 managers reporting to Field and leading Apple’s work on a self-driving car last month. Lyon is leaving to join space and satellite startup Astra, the Alameda, California-based company said Wednesday in a statement. Apple didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
Lyon’s departure from the Cupertino, California-based iPhone maker comes as the company is seeking potential car and manufacturing partners to eventually launch its vehicle. The company 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 later this decade.