Self-driving car: “The mother of all AI projects”

June 14, 2017 // By Christoph Hammerschmidt
Since years, the industry is about Apple’s intention to develop an autonomous car. In a video interview for the Bloomberg news service, CEO Tim Cook for the first time provided some insights into Apple’s plans. Cook remained vague about the ‘Project Titan’, as the venture has been baptized. Only one thing became clear: It has something to do with Artificial Intelligence.

In the interview, Cook acknowledged what the thought leaders in the automotive industry have been preaching for a decade or so: There are massive disruptions ahead. In line with the predictions across the industry, Cook idendified self-driving cars, electrification and ride sharing as the three most powerful “vectors or change” currently determining the direction of the developments.

All these who hoped that Cook would say something substantial about Apple’s goals in the area of individual mobility were disappointed. It however became obvious that Apple does not even think about building a self-driving car. Instead, he explained the whole thing from the perspective of the software. The keyword here is Artificial Intelligence. “We see it as the mother of all AI projects”, Cook said. “It is probably one of the most difficult AI projects. Autonomy is something very exciting, and we’ll see where it takes us.”

Earlier this year, Apple was granted permission to test drive cars in California. First test vehicles based on a Lexus SUV were already seen on public streets. Apple follows the example of Google with its subsidiary company Waymo also developed only systems for autonomous driving, but does not plan to manufacture and sell whole cars. Toards this end, Waymo is collaborating with Fiat-Chrysler.

By the end of 2015, Apple had secured access to a test site in California with the name "Go Mentum Station" on a former US Navy site near Concord, California. On the same site, Daimler used to test its self-driving Mercedes-Benz prototypes. The test track has some 30 kilometers of road and motorway sections. The Go Mentum Station is said to be the secure test facility in the world.

For a long time, industry observers speculated that what is behind Project Titan is an autonomous electric car, to be launched in 2020. According to the Wall Street Journal, the model should look at a minivan. It also has been speculated that a cooperation