Tim Cook, Apple's Chief Executive Officer, expressed Apple's plan for creating autonomous systems to power self-driving cars. Cook perceives autonomy as the mother of all artificial intelligence projects.
"Autonomy is something that's incredibly exciting for us, but we'll see where it will take us. We're not really saying from a product point of view what we'll do, but we're being straightforward that it's a core technology we view as very important," Cook said.
It is reported that the code name for Apple's driverless car project is called "Project Titan." At least 1,000 engineers are rumored to be working on the project. According to Reuters, the research describes an autonomous system called "VoxelNet," which could allow autonomous car makers to be able to detect objects with just the aid of the Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) system. The system could enable the detection of pedestrians and other vehicles to avoid accidents. The device is equipped with a camera for object-sensing and shoots lasers at objects for time measurement of the duration it takes to come back.
Cook further stated that Apple thinks that it is the optimal time to enter the automotive industry. According to him, self-driving technology is one of the three "vectors of change" that will happen at the same time in the near future. Ride-sharing apps and electric vehicles are the other two vectors of change he mentioned. Apple's CEO claims the electric car experience is a marvelous one and that not stopping at the filling station or the gas station is wonderful. Albeit news that Apple is being more modest with its self-driving car project and focusing instead on its software aspect, some reports claim otherwise.
A letter was sent to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration by Apple's director of product integrity, Steve Kenner, several months ago. The letter was made public after its publication on a federal website. In the letter, Kenner wrote about the company's interest in testing automated vehicles on public roads. Its also contains the company's excitement in entering the transportation field by creating automated systems.
If Apple's plan pushes through, the company would be a direct competitor of Tesla, Inc.
Michelle Krebs, Autotrader's executive analyst, said that Apple has long been the wild card in the autonomous car game.
As stated in Bloomberg, Krebs expressed that "Now we know Apple is all in, and, judging by its track record in other areas, it will be a force. Apple's strategy to commercialize autonomous vehicles remains to be seen -- will they partner and sell the technology or actually develop their own vehicles?"
As of now, no official announcement has been made by Apple yet. Stay tuned for further updates.
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