The rumours surrounding Apple’s self-driving car ambitions have ranged from the company developing its own driverless Apple Car, to the entire project being restructured.
Now, according to a new report from Bloomberg, Apple CEO Tim Cook has confirmed that the tech giant is indeed working on software for self-driving cars. Cook called the development effort “the mother of all projects.”
It’s been reported in the past that Apple has visited German automaker BMW’s factories, acquired permits to test autonomous vehicles in the US, and sent letters to US governmental authorities in support of the technology in general – all of which more or less confirmed its interest in self-driving cars, but this is the first time any official confirmation has been uttered.
Cook told Bloomberg: “We’re focusing on autonomous systems. It’s a core technology that we view as very important… We sort of see it as the mother of all AI projects. It’s probably one of the most difficult AI projects actually to work on.”
A public admission like this is rare for Apple, but perhaps this is part of a broader plan to slowly open up the company in these post-Steve Jobs years. Cook has opened up parts of iOS, which one might consider Apple’s crown jewels, by building extensibility into the system.
As well as Google, numerous other companies are now developing autonomous cars – including all the big, auto giants which everyone would be familiar with, such as BMW, Mercedes, General Motors, Toyota, Fiat Chrysler and so on.
And not without good reason, nor a moment too soon. The traditional automakers may have shared widespread general skepticism of self-driving technology at first, but now they’re virtually falling over themselves to develop not only autonomous technology but also electric vehicles – because apparently that’s what the future is.
The revelation follows Apple being granted a permit to test driverless cars in California back in April – a development that left little in doubt when it came to the company’s plans.