Apple is a company that can be pretty mysterious at times, and here’s another example. Bloomberg investigated and discovered that last year, John Morrell, one of the leading engineers behind the Segway, left his position at Yale and joined Apple.
Intriguing. Apple has no known connection to robotics, so hiring a robotics expert is a pretty random move. More surprising perhaps is that Morrell was interested in joining Apple, as he was tipped to be director of Yale’s new Center for Engineering Innovation and Design. However, it turns out there are more connections than you might think.
My roboticist friends think he must be working on something pretty fantastic to have quit the Yale post. My great hope is that he is indeed building a robot that transforms health care, or crafting the first mind-bending consumer 3D printer, or devising something far more spectacular.
Evidence on LinkedIn suggests that Morrell has been reunited with much of the original Segway team, including Doug Field, Segway’s former chief technology officer who is now Apple’s vice president for product design. Most of these folks work on Apple’s flagship devices rather than odd Segway offshoots. And Morrell works in the Mac software group, according to a person familiar with Apple’s engineering teams, who asked to remain anonymous because he wasn’t authorized to speak for the company.
I reckon the more plausible reason is so that he can hang out with his friends from Segway, however perhaps Apple really is planning a robotic revolution that we haven’t heard about yet. If it is, it probably won’t be public for another few years or so. Either way, I’m sure Woz must be delighted that Apple boasts an impressive range of segway polo players in its ranks.