Apple is working on the "autonomous systems" behind driverless cars, Chief Executive Tim Cook said in an interview published by Bloomberg on Tuesday, in his most detailed comments about the company's secretive plans.
The technology giant has been tight-lipped on any of its autonomous vehicle plans, despite numerous reports that it has been researching them under codename "Project Titan".
Cook's comments illustrate that Apple is working on the software behind the vehicle.
"We're focusing on autonomous systems. And clearly, one purpose of autonomous systems are self-driving cars. There are others," Cook said in an interview with Bloomberg on June 5, that appears to have been published Tuesday.
"And we sort of see it as the mother of all AI projects. It's probably one of the most difficult AI projects actually to work on and so autonomy is something that's incredibly exciting for us, but we'll see where it takes us."
Cook made clear that the company is not ready to say what exactly they will do from a "product point of view".
Apple CEO Tim Cook smiles during a product launch event on October 27, 2016 in Cupertino, California. Apple Inc. unveiled the latest iterations of its MacBook Pro line of laptops and TV app.
"But we are being straightforward that it's a core technology that we view as very important," the CEO added.
Despite Apple trying to keep its project under wraps, some of its test cars have been spotted. A white Lexus RX450h SUV was seen in April sporting a number of sensors and cameras. That same month, the California Department of Motor Vehicles granted Apple permission to test autonomous cars on roads around the state.
Cook's comments mirror a letter that it submitted to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) towards the end of last year about its car plans, which also gave a large hint that software was the main focus.
"The company is investing heavily in the study of machine learning and automation, and is excited about the potential of automated systems in many areas, including transportation," Apple said in a letter dated Nov. 22.