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Apple’s AI Plans Go Beyond Driverless Cars

Apple has offered further hints about its plans for Artificial Intelligence, and in particular for autonomous systems.

After revealing last month, that it was indeed working on a driverless car programme, CEO Tim Cook has now expanded on his previous announcement, explaining how Apple wants to use AI for more than driving vehicles.

“Autonomous systems can be used in a variety of ways,” Cook explained during a call with investors on Tuesday afternoon, according to the Verge. “A vehicle is only one, but there are many different areas of it. And I don’t want to go any further with that. We do have a large project going.”

What sort of “large project” involving AI Cook was talking about is anybody’s guess.

Autonomous systems could be used in a vast array of applications, from house-cleaning robots, to autonomous drones, factory automata, or driverless buggies for groceries delivery.

In the past, Apple has already shown off its robotic chops in a viral clip featuring Liam, its iPhone-dismantling machine.

Once again, Apple seems hell-bent on upping its AI game, after a couple of years of falling behind its competitors in the field.

That was largely due to the company’s secretiveness about its AI achievements, a stance that turned off many world-class researchers, eager to share their latest findings with the academic community.

Cook finally binned that policy early this year, first by joining the tech-juggernauts’ club Partnership on AI, and, more recently, by launching an open-access  journal devoted to Apple’s machine learning research.

At the same time, the company has kick-started a series of initiatives to hone its AI chops— from the release of smart speaker HomePod, to the creation of a new chip that would speed up AI processes on its handsets.

Apple’s interest in autonomous systems is only the latest instance of its new long-term strategy.

“We are very focused on autonomous systems,” Cook added. “We do have a large project going, and are making a big investment in this. From our point of view, autonomy is sort of the mother of all AI projects.”

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