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Apple Reveals Its Focus on Self-Driving Vehicle Technology

Apple’s famous reputation for secrecy continues to morph. While much of the company’s upcoming products remain shrouded in mystery – as evidenced by the numerous surprises at WWDC last week – other works in progress have voluntarily been thrust into the public eye. Alex Webb and Emily Chang report for Bloomberg on the latest big disclosure:

After years toiling away in secret on its car project, Apple Inc. Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook has for the first time laid out exactly what the company is up to in the automotive market: It’s concentrating on self-driving technology.

“We’re focusing on autonomous systems,” Cook said in a June 5 interview on Bloomberg Television that amounted to his most detailed comments yet on Apple’s automotive plans. “It’s a core technology that we view as very important.” He likened the effort to “the mother of all AI projects,” saying it’s “probably one of the most difficult AI projects to work on.”

Apple’s car-related work has been a loosely kept secret to this point due to the various permits and regulatory approvals required to test self-driving vehicles on public roads, but that doesn’t make today’s news any less surprising. It’s one thing to announce a product six months out, or even a year or more out as happened recently with the Mac Pro, but publicly disclosing an entrance into a huge new market – potentially a long while before the product is ready to ship – is a different thing entirely.

Cook at least isn’t giving away the whole story yet. The end of the Bloomberg story notes:

Cook was hesitant to disclose whether Apple will ultimately manufacture its own car. “We’ll see where it takes us,” Cook said. “We’re not really saying from a product point of view what we will do.”