Apple Is Focusing on Making an Autonomous Car System

Apple Is Focusing on Making an Autonomous Car System

Foto: Tim Cook, Apple CEO

After years toiling away in secret on its car project, Apple CEO Tim Cook has for the first time laid out exactly what the company is up to in the automotive market: It’s concentrating on self-driving technology, according to Bloomberg.

“We’re focusing on autonomous systems,” Cook said in an interview on Bloomberg Television. “It’s a core technology that we view as very important.” “We sort of see it as the mother of all AI projects,” Cook said in his most detailed comments to date on Apple’s plans in the car space. “It’s probably one of the most difficult A.I. projects actually to work on.”

The prospect of self-driving cars has seen a slew of technology companies push into the auto industry, which is estimated to be worth $6.7 trillion by 2030, according to McKinsey & Co. Alphabet’s Waymo has signed partnerships with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and Lyft to develop the technology. And carmakers from BMW to General Motors have opened sizable Silicon Valley offices and dedicated hundreds of millions of dollars to acquire autonomous vehicle startups.

Apple had initially been seeking to build its own car, before recalibrating those ambitions last year to prioritize the underlying technology for autonomous driving, Bloomberg News reported. The iPhone maker had hired more than 1,000 engineers to work on Project Titan, as the car team is known internally, after it started in 2014.

The iPhone maker secured a permit from the California Department of Motor Vehicles in April to test three self-driving sports-utility vehicles, photos of which emerged several weeks later. A half-dozen vehicles had been surreptitiously testing the autonomous technology on public roads in and around the San Francisco Bay area for at least a year, according to someone familiar with Project Titan. Apple spokesman Tom Neumayr declined to comment on how long the company has been conducting road tests.

“There is a major disruption looming there,” Cook said on Bloomberg Television, citing self-driving technology, electric vehicles and ride-hailing. “You’ve got kind of three vectors of change happening generally in the same time frame.” Cook was also bullish about the prospects for electric vehicles, a market which last week helped Tesla Inc. become the world’s fourth-biggest carmaker by market capitalization, even as it ranks well outside the top 10 by unit sales. “It’s a marvelous experience not to stop at the filling station or the gas station,” Cook said.

In the interview on Bloomberg Television, Cook was hesitant to disclose whether Apple will ultimately manufacture its own car. "We’ll see where it takes us," Cook said. "We’re not really saying from a product point of view what we will do."

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