Apple’s vehicle projects have been rumoured, confirmed, and rumoured at least once every few months for years now, but CEO Tim Cook has finally let the cat out of the bag. Sort of.
In a one-on-one interview with Bloomberg’s Emily Chang, Cook said that Apple’s interest in the future of vehicle lies in “autonomous systems.”
“I think there is a major disruption looming there [in vehicle technology], not only for self-driving cars, but also the electrification piece,” said Cook, in the June 5th, 2017 interview.
Cook went to explain that, in his eyes, there are three major emerging trends related to vehicle technology: self-driving cars, electric vehicles, and ridesharing services.
“So, you’ve got three vectors of change happening generally in the same timeframe,” said Cook. “As we look at it, and what we’re focusing on — or, what we’ve talked about focusing on publicly — is we’re focusing on autonomous systems.”
“Clearly one focus of autonomous systems is self-driving cars…and we sort of see it as the mother of all AI projects.”
Apple’s been rumoured to have been working on some form of automotive technology for years now, with reports that the company planned on building an actual car dating back to 2014.
Around 2015, rumours began to circulate that Apple had ceased its work on a physical car and shifted to autonomous vehicle technology.
It was also in 2015 that The Guardian obtained documents supporting the existence of “Project Titan,” Apple’s self-driving car.
In October 2016, it was rumoured that Apple was testing Project Titan in Ottawa.
Then, in 2017, the company reportedly obtained permits to test self-driving cars in California.
With Cook’s open admission, what were once rumours and in-field sightings of white SUVs decked out with sensors have now become fact.
“It’s probably one of the most difficult AI projects to work on,” said Cook. “So autonomous is something incredibly exciting for us, and we’ll see where it takes us.”
“We’re not really saying from a product point-of-view what we will do, but we are being straightforward that it’s a core technology that we view as very important.”