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Apple confirms automotive ambition; 'mother of all AI projects'

The company will attempt to develop the technology that powers autonomous cars, rather than attempting to design a new car.

Apple has finally announced key details of its oft-rumored foray into the automotive industry.

Speaking to Bloomberg in a recent interview, chief executive Tim Cook confirmed that the company is now focusing on developing the computing technology that powers autonomous cars instead of attempting to design a new car in-house from the ground up.

"I think there is a major disruption looming there," he said. "It's a core technology that we view as very important."

Like many major automakers and Silicon Valley players involved in autonomous cars, Apple apparently views artificial intelligence as a critical element. Cook cautions that it is a particularly challenging application, representing the "mother of all AI projects."

The iPhone maker is still reluctant to announce any product specifics, but state permit records suggest the company is already testing a small fleet of autonomous vehicles in California.

Cook points out that autonomy is only one of three major disruptions converging on the automotive industry, arriving at the same time as electrification and expansion of ride-sharing services. If Apple follows Google's lead, the Cupertino-based tech giant may be working on an autonomous system that can power a driverless fleet of electric taxis.

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