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What would an autonomous Apple Car mean for Tesla?

I’m not sure which podcasts Elon Musk is listening to. But I hope he caught Kara Swisher’s “Sway” today because it definitely concerns him.

Apple CEO Tim Cook joined Swisher, and the two discussed, among other things, the mysterious Apple Car.

Details are scarce and I’m just ahead: Cook did not give anything big away or make any firm statements. But he danced around the subject enough to leave a few impressions.

To begin with, talking about the Apple Car, Cook told Swisher:

Autonomy itself is, in my opinion, a core technology. If you kind of step back, the car is in many ways a robot. An autonomous car is a robot. And then there are many things you can do with autonomy. And we̵

7;ll see what Apple does.

We already suspect that the Apple Car would be an autonomous or semi-autonomous vehicle, but it’s always nice to hear Cook confirm that. Unfortunately, when he talks about how you can “do a lot of things with autonomy”, it makes things back again. The company has still not revealed whether the Apple Car will be a passenger car, a van, a robotic taxi or shuttle service or something completely different.

Fortunately, Cook dropped another juicy treat – though it may have been unintentional. He raised Elon Musk, and if you ask me, it tells us who he thinks the competition is: Tesla.

Here is the quote:

I have never spoken to Elon, although I have great admiration and respect for the company he has built. I think Tesla has done an incredible job of not only establishing the lead, but keeping the lead for so long in the EV space. So I really appreciate them.

Is it just me, or does it sound like the kind of thing Apple could have said to the world’s leading maker of MP3 players a year or two before it released the iPod?

On the one hand, it’s hard to imagine a vehicle surpassing Tesla’s in form and function. We do not have to go faster than they can go, they are beautiful and they are relatively cheap to buy while being environmentally friendly.

But on the other hand, Tesla has not really done much in the way of autonomy. It’s almost ridiculous that the company calls its software “Autopilot” and “Full Self-Drive” when you consider that both require an attentive driver behind the wheel all the time.

It’s very easy to imagine that Apple’s AI team will come up with a product that shames Tesla’s lousy autonomous offer – do not forget that Ian Goodfellow is in Cupertino now.

And realistically, Apple does not have to beat Tesla by making an EV. In fact, it’s likely that Apple will not even make its own vehicles at first. I bet the company is still pursuing another manufacturer to work with after a reported Hyundai-Kia deal fell through.

It just needs to fulfill the promises Tesla failed to give people a car that drives safely itself or offers a robotic taxi service to the public.

Who do you want to spend your money on in a winner-takes-all battle for the driverless future?

H / t: Rebecca Bellan, Tech Crunch

Published April 5, 2021 – 23:55 UTC

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