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US tech leader puts the brakes on its self-driving program

US technology leader Apple has announced that it is cutting back on its dedicated self-driving team. However, it declared that it was remaining in the race to deploy autonomous vehicles.

The US conglomerate has been forced to review its entire operations due to flagging sales of its iPhone in China. CNBC report that the company had taken the decision to cut 200 people from its self-driving program which is known internally as ‘Project Titan’.

It is believed that many of the personnel let go from Project Titan have been transferred to jobs elsewhere at Apple’s HQ in California.

In a statement released by Apple, the tech behemoth reiterated that its passion for developing autonomous driving programs was undeterred despite the reduction in its Project Titan team.

Apple said, “We have an incredibly talented team working on autonomous systems and associated technologies at Apple.  We continue to believe there is a huge opportunity with autonomous systems, that Apple has unique capabilities to contribute, and that this is the most ambitious machine learning project ever."

Last year, Apple hired a former Tesla executive to spearhead the self-driving vehicle tech team last year, and the staff cut came with internal reorganization.

Apple added, “As the team focuses their work on several key areas for 2019, some groups are being moved to projects in other parts of the company, where they will support machine learning and other initiatives, across all of Apple.”

Apple is notorious for its anonymity, but it was forced to publicly announce its aspirations in relation to self-driving when it penned a letter to the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration offering the company's opinion about regulations for the sector.

Apple CEO, Tim Cook stated that he viewed autonomous driving systems as a core technology of the future- and said it was pursuing the new business vertical as there is a major disruption on the horizon due to emerging new technologies and innovations.