Apple Inc. (AAPL) has become the latest tech behemoth to enter the autonomous car industry. In an interview with Bloomberg television yesterday, Apple CEO Tim Cook said the company was focusing on autonomous car systems and referred to the project as the "Mother of all A.I. (artificial intelligence) projects." He said that there were three vectors of change happening within the same timeframe in the automotive industry: electrification, autonomy and ride sharing. "There is a major disruption looming there," Cook said. (See also: How Google's Self-Driving Car Will Change Everything.)
Cook's pronouncements confirm earlier news reports that track the Cupertino, California-based company's progress in the autonomous car industry. Apple applied for permits to test self-driving autonomous cars this past April, photographs of which have already leaked online. (See also: California's DMV Just Dropped an Apple Bombshell.) According to reports, Apple's internal division for autonomous car development, codenamed Project Titan, underwent a significant change in direction and strategy last year. The company shifted its efforts from attempting to manufacture an autonomous car to making car systems that enable autonomy. A fully autonomous car could be the ideal platform for the company's iOS ecosystem, which has apps for automation, productivity and entertainment. (See also: Apple Sets Late 2017 Deadline for Car Project.)
The market for autonomous cars has become crowded with multiple players from the technology and automotive sectors in recent times. For example, Alphabet Inc. (GOOG) subsidiary Waymo, which pioneered the industry, has inked partnerships with leading car manufacturers for its system. Ride-sharing startup Uber Technologies, Inc. is also said to have made significant progress in its experiments with autonomous cars. Leading car makers such as Ford Motor Company (F) and General Motors Company (GM) have also promised to bring autonomous cars to the masses. (See also: General Motors and Ford Investing in New Trends.) Finally, there's Tesla, Inc. (TSLA), which has combined the smarts of its electric cars with autonomous systems.
Apple once had ambitions to manufacture an electric car. During his interview, Cook did not rule out the possibility of making a car from scratch. "We'll see where it takes us," he told interviewer Emily Chang.