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Apple is Really Working on Self-Driving Cars

Apple CEO Tim Cook has detailed the company’s plans to enter the self-driving car sector, Bloomberg revealed.

The rumour has been circulating for a while that the iPhone maker’s next big project would involved driverless vehicles, but the company’s management had so far been peculiarly cagey about the feat.

Late last year, it emerged that when Apple kicked-started the project—in 2014— it had originally aimed at building the whole automobile; ultimately, though, the company resolved to focus its efforts only on developing the software and components  involved in the autonomous driving.

Now, Tim Cook’s interview offers a long-sought glimpse into Apple’s plans.

“We’re focusing on autonomous systems. It’s a core technology that we view as very important,” Cook said. “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.”

 

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Apple is working on self-driving cars AI

Apple’s self-driving car units, officially dubbed “Project Titan” and led by former Senior Vice President of Technologies Bob Mansfield, has already begun fielding some of its driverless vehicles—three, to be exact— in the San Francisco Bay area, although it is unknown for how long the trials have been going on.

Apple’s interest in the sector was further corroborated in December by a letter to  the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration signalling its excitement regarding mobility and transportation.

According to Bloomberg, Cook sees autonomous cars as one of three factors—together with electric vehicles and ride-hailing services— likely to unleash a revolution in mobility over the next few years.

“There is a major disruption looming there,” he said. “You’ve got kind of three vectors of change happening generally in the same time frame.”

Apple is only the latest Silicon Valley heavyweight to join the race to build self-driving cars: Alphabet’s Waymo, cab-hailing juggernaut Uber, and electrical carmaker Tesla have all been testing driverless cars for some time now— alongside many car manufacturing incumbents.

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Waymo, previously Google, is one of the major actors in the self-driving car sector in Silicon Valley

In this case as before, Apple seems to be playing catch-up with other tech giants, especially when it comes to technologies and applications involving Artificial Intelligence.

Following a period of falling behind in the field—partly because its extreme secretiveness turned off AI researchers eager to share their achievements with the academic community—Apple is now on a quest to regain its past pre-eminence.

Its accession to bigshot club Partnership on AI in January 2017, together with new AI-focused engineering breakthroughs, its recent launch of a smart loudspeaker— a direct competitor of Amazon Echo and Google Home— last week, and Project Titan itself, can all be seen as elements of Apple’s strategy for a comeback in the AI space.

 

Image via bit.ly/2sjTXfH

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