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Tuesday, June 13, 2017
Apple Confirms Focus on an Autonomous Car System

Apple CEO Tim Cook confirmed to Bloomberg Television's Emily Chang the company 's focus on self-driving technology.

"We're focusing on autonomous systems," Cook said in an interview on June 5. "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 A.I. projects actually to work on," he added.

"There is a major disruption looming there," Cook said, 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."

But 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."

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.

Alphabet's Waymo unit has signed partnerships with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV and Lyft Inc. to develop self-driving technology. Carmakers from BMW AG to General Motors Co. have opened Silicon Valley offices and dedicated hundreds of millions of dollars to acquire autonomous vehicle startups.

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.

In December, Steve Kenner, Apple's director of product integrity, penned a letter to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration revealing the company's interest in automotive technology.

Apple invested $1 billion last year in Didi Chuxing, the biggest Chinese ride-hailing service.

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