Apple is not about to become an automaker just yet, but has confirmed it is developing technology to go into autonomous vehicles.
For the last few years, rumours have circulated that the tech giant may be working on creating an ‘Apple car’ after it recruited many auto experts from companies such as Ford or Mercedes-Benz. In 2015, established automakers were reportedly ‘spooked’ by the company stepping into their field.
“The growing use of computing power in vehicles, and the ability of cars to connect to smartphones and other devices, is providing technology companies and automakers with new business opportunities − and increasingly setting them up as rivals,” Reuters reported at the time.
However, Apple CEO Tim Cook says in a short interview with Bloomberg that the company is focusing on autonomous systems ? the technology and software that ‘drives’ the car. He called it the “mother of all AI [artificial intelligence] projects”.
He says there is major disruption looming in the automotive space, not only with self-driving cars, but also electric cars and ride-sharing services.
Cook says Apple will not disclose what it is doing from a product point of view but did say the company views the autonomous systems as an important core technology.
In April, Apple secured a permit to test autonomous vehicles in California. It was confirmed by the regional department of motor vehicles that the company was allowed six drivers to test three cars – all 2015 Lexus RX450h.
Others that have been issued with similar permits include Google, Ford Motor, Volkswagen AG, Daimler AG, Tesla Motors and General Motors.
Last year, Apple reportedly registered a series of domain names relating to cars: apple.car, apple.cars and apple.auto. At the time, it was speculated this could be something to do with its CarPlay system, which connects the iPhone to the car dashboard. However, none of the three sites are live yet and CarPlay currently lives at www.apple.com/ios/carplay/.
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