Apple CEO Tim Cook has finally discussed one of his company’s biggest initiatives.
Speaking to Bloomberg in an interview published on Tuesday, Cook confirmed that Apple is working on “autonomous systems” for cars. Cook, who didn’t elaborate on Apple’s work, would only say that he believes self-driving car technology is “very important” to his company.
For years, Apple (AAPL) has remained tight-lipped as rumors have swirled, saying the company is working on car technology. Initially, market watchers speculated that Apple was working on its own car. The vehicle would come with self-driving car technology and possibly hit the road within the next few years.
Last year, however, rumors started to surface that suggested Apple had moved on from the automaker operation and would instead focus on vehicle technology. Earlier this year, the California Department of Motor Vehicles awarded Apple a permit to test self-driving cars on the state’s roads, lending even more credibility to the reports.
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Still, Apple has decided against directly acknowledging its car ambitions. In past earnings calls, for instance, Cook has only hinted or quipped about possible moves into the car business.
By working on self-driving car technology, Apple is putting itself in direct competition with a slew of competitors, including Alphabet’s Waymo (GOOGL), which has been developing an autonomous driving product for years. Prominent carmakers, including General Motors (GM) and BMW, are also examining the possibility of joining the market.
In his interview with Bloomberg, Cook suggested that Apple’s home-brewed artificial intelligence technology would prove critical to differentiating its product from the others. Cook didn’t say, however, how Apple’s technology might differ from the others.
Although Cook acknowledged Apple is working on car technology, he didn’t rule out the possibility of his company eventually building its own car. Instead, he told Bloomberg that Apple will “see where” Apple’s work on car technology might lead the company.