Technology company Apple has officially thrown its hat in the ring as a developer of autonomous vehicle technology, a move that comes after it scrapped an earlier plan to develop cars bearing the brand’s iconic logo.
In his first open admission of what Apple has been up to on this front, CEO Tim Cook says the company has decided to dedicate itself to the development of autonomous vehicle control software, a task he likens to “the mother of all AI projects,” according to a Bloomberg report.
The move adds Apple’s name to a growing list that includes Google’s Waymo, which days before made a similar decision to quit working on its cute, self-driving bubble cars in favour of tailoring software that could be used in vehicles built by big-name car manufacturers.
OEMs interested in autonomous car tech from Apple and Google include Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, which has partnered with ride-sharing app Lyft; and BMW and GM, which have reportedly moved into California’s Silicon Valley to be in a better position to acquire autonomous vehicle startups and the technology they are working on.
Technically, Apple’s intention to get into self-driving software was made public in late 2016, when the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) published a letter from the company’s director of product integrity, Steve Kenner, spelling out Apple’s interest in automotive technology.
Apple’s Cook seems keen on being part of a “disruption looming” in which self-driving cars, electric vehicles, and ride-hailing are converging on the industry, promising “change… in the same time frame.”