Reports have emerged that Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) is developing AI systems meant to power self-driving cars. According to revelations from CEO Tim Cook, Apple is working on artificial-intelligence-based self-driving technology. Cook said in an interview, “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.”
The interview amounted to his most detailed comments yet on Apple’s automotive plans. Cook has never before openly outlined Apple’s plans. He stopped well short of saying Apple was actually building its own car. “We’ll see where it takes us,” he said.
Apple’s self-driving car ambition has been the worst-kept secret in Silicon Valley. Evidence has been mounting for years regarding its autonomous car project, code-named Project Titan. Apple reportedly hired more than 1,000 engineers to work on Project Titan.
However, Bloomberg reported last year that the company had cut hundreds of jobs in its car endeavors and had scaled back its ambitions. The publication wrote that “hundreds of members of the car team” had been let go or reassigned to other areas of the company. The report also said that the project’s new leadership was focusing on developing system that gives Apple the “flexibility” to partner with existing carmakers.
Apple’s CEO isn’t shy about discussing technologies that Apple is investing in. Cook’s revelation shows that Apple is serious about autonomous car tech. Documents have recently emerged that show Apple’s involvement in the technology, including a permit in California for the company to test self-driving cars. The permit secured from the California Department of Motor Vehicles in April allows Apple to test three self-driving sports-utility vehicles.
The tech giant may have to blow through a lot of cash to catch up this late in the game. Alphabet Inc.’s Waymo unit is already working with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles on commercializing its autonomous systems. A few carmakers have dedicated hundreds of millions of dollars to acquiring autonomous vehicle startups.
Tesla, the main Silicon Valley company deeply involved in transportation, has seen a nearly 70 percent appreciation in its share price over the first six months of 2017. Tesla recently topped BMW to become the fourth most valuable car company in the world. The company has thoroughly shown that a seat-of-the-pants automaker can be created in the 21st century. However, Apple has a habit of dominating nearly every field it decides to enter, so Tesla should definitely take notice.