Apple CEO Tim Cook hinted at the company’s work in autonomous vehicles, following recent reports that the company is in renewed talks to develop its own car.
“The autonomy itself is a core technology, in my view. If you sort of step back, the car, in a lot of ways, is a robot. An autonomous car is a robot. And so there’s lots of things you can do with autonomy. And we’ll see what Apple does,” Cook said in an interview released Monday with Kara Swisher on the “Sway” podcast.
“We investigate so many things internally. Many of them never see the light of day. I’m not saying that one will not,” Cook added.
When asked if Apple was working on a car itself or the technology within a car, Cook declined to comment.
“We love to integrate hardware, software, and services, and find the intersection points of those because we think that’s where the magic occurs. And so that’s what we love to do. And we love to own the primary technology that’s around that,” he said.
Apple has long been expected to get into the auto business with its own vehicle or selling its technology to other car makers, and has made a number of moves indicating it planned to do so. Helping bolster its engineering ranks, the company acquired autonomous vehicle startup Drive.ai in 2019.
An autonomous vehicle could position the company against Tesla, which is rolling out its own self-driving features. In 2018, Apple hired back Doug Field, then Tesla‘s senior vice president of engineering, to presumably work on self-driving cars. Apple has also brought in several other former Tesla employees, including former Tesla vice president of engineering Michael Schwekutsch, now senior director of engineering for the Special Projects Group at Apple.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk had even said last year that he once tried to start talks to sell the company to Apple, but Cook declined to take a meeting.
“You know, I’ve never spoken to Elon, although I have great admiration and respect for the company he’s built. I think Tesla has done an unbelievable job of not only establishing the lead, but keeping the lead for such a long period of time in the EV space. So I have great appreciation for them,” Cook told Swisher.
Most recently, CNBC reported that Apple was close to finalizing a deal with Hyundai-Kia to manufacture an Apple-branded autonomous electric vehicle at the Kia assembly plant in West Point, Georgia. However, the automakers later walked back on the claims.