After years of secrecy, Apple has finally divulged some details on its much-hyped car project.
In an interview with Bloomberg, Apple CEO Tim Cook confirmed the company is developing a self-driving system for cars, putting it in a race with rival tech giants such as Alphabet (Google’s parent) and Intel as well as ride-sharing giants Uber and Lyft and many of the major automakers.
“We’re focusing on autonomous systems,” Cook said. “It’s a core technology that we view as very important.”
He went on to describe the self-driving system as an artificial intelligence (AI) project that has the potential for “major disruption.” For example, just in the case of the auto industry, self-driving cars could lead to more people in cities choosing to skip owning a car, with automakers earning more of their revenue from offering rides instead of actually selling cars.
Cook wasn’t willing to reveal what Apple plans to do with its self-driving system from a product perspective, which means the company could still manufacture its own self-driving car eventually.
The more likely scenario, at least initially, is that Apple either plans to license the technology or use it for a self-driving taxi service. Recall, Apple in 2016 invested $1 billion in Chinese ride-sharing giant Didi Chuxing.
Though Apple had never previously acknowledged it was working on a car-related project, comments from numerous insiders as well as the tech giant’s poaching of senior auto industry staff suggested otherwise.
News of Apple developing its own car under the code name Project Titan emerged in 2013. Two years later it was thought Apple would have a car on sale as early as 2019, but in 2016 it was reported that the company had abandoned plans to develop its own car and would focus on self-driving tech instead. Cook's latest comments go some way towards corroborating the report.