When there’s smoke there’s fire, and when it comes to rumors surrounding Apple’s alleged plans to develop an electric car, there’s a whole lot of smoke.

Following up on a recent report that Apple is already scouting locations to test drive whatever type of mysterious vehicle it’s working on, Reuters is now reporting that Apple has hired yet another notable auto industry veteran to its fledgling and secretive car development team.

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According to the report, Apple recently hired Jamie Carlson, a former senior engineer at Tesla with a background in autonomous technologies. According to Carlson’s LinkedIn profile, his tenure at Tesla involved managing the team responsible for Tesla’s autopilot software. Prior to that, Carlson spent a few years at Gentex where he helped test software related to a “next generation automotive vision system.”

Carlson, it’s worth noting, is just the latest in a long line of intriguing hires Apple has made in recent months.

Reuters adds:

Since January, Apple has hired Megan McClain, a former Volkswagen AG engineer with expertise in automated driving, and Vinay Palakkode, a graduate researcher at Carnegie Mellon University, a hub of automated driving research.

In August, Apple hired Xianqiao Tong, an engineer who developed computer vision software for driver assistance systems at microchip maker Nvidia Corp.

You might also recall that Apple earlier this summer hired Doug Betts, a seasoned automotive executive with more than 20 years of industry experience overseeing all aspects of the manufacturing process, including supply chain logistics and product quality.

A few months before that, Apple made headlines when it hired Paul Furgale, an acclaimed autonomous vehicle researcher who reportedly began assembling a team of “robotics and machine vision experts to work on a confidential project.”

Whatever Apple is up to, it’s becoming increasingly clear that the company has something big in the works. While developing and manufacturing its own branded car is not without its logistical, economic, and practical challenges, it’s fast becoming apparent that Apple’s car research might be much more involved than other exploratory research initiatives.

As a final point, a report from this past July claimed that Apple’s car development team was becoming so big as to cause a bit of discontent within the company.

“Apple has shifted so much staff towards its auto division that senior managers in other divisions are complaining about the loss of talent from their teams,” The Register reported a few weeks back.

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