In a move that insiders view as an increased emphasis on the development of self-driving technology, Apple Inc. has hired Dan Dodge, the founder and former CEO of QNX, the operating system development firm acquired by BlackBerry in 2010.

Dodge reportedly joined Apple earlier this year and is part of the Project Titan team lead by longtime Apple senior executive Bob Mansfield.

Sources familiar with the project maintain that while Apple is focusing on a system to facilitate autonomous driving that the company has not wavered from a commitment to design its own vehicle. The shift in priority is also seen as one that leaves open the possibility of Apple partnering with or acquiring an established automaker rather than building the car itself.

The Apple car initiative is believed to have several hundred engineers working on a vehicle design with a target release date as early as 2020. The project has reportedly been marred by a series of high-level departures, development delays and uncertainties concerning direction.