Apple studies self-driving car, auto industry source says

Sat Feb 14, 2015 4:31pm EST
 
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By Edward Taylor and Alexei Oreskovic

FRANKFURT/SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Technology giant Apple (AAPL.O: Quote) is looking beyond mobile devices to learn how to make a self-driving electric car, and is talking to experts at carmakers and automotive suppliers, a senior auto industry source familiar with the discussions said on Saturday.

The Cupertino, California-based maker of phones, computers and, soon, watches is exploring how to make an entire vehicle, not just designing automotive software or individual components, the auto industry source said.

"They don't appear to want a lot of help from carmakers," said the source, who declined to be named.

Apple is gathering advice on parts and production methods, focusing on electric and connected-car technologies, while studying the potential for automated driving, the source said.

"Fully automated driving is an evolution. Carmakers will slowly build the market for autonomous cars by first releasing connected and partially automated cars," the auto industry source said. "Apple is interested in all the potential ways you can evolve the car; that includes autonomous driving."

Whether it will build and release an electric car or a more evolved autonomous vehicle remains to be seen, the source said.

But clearly Apple has sharply raised its ambitions in automotive technology. Car technology has become a prime area of interest for Silicon Valley companies ranging from Google Inc (GOOGL.O: Quote), which has built a prototype self-driving car, to electric car-maker Tesla Motors Inc (TSLA.O: Quote).

An Apple spokesman in London on Saturday declined to comment on "rumors or speculation".   Continued...

 
Apple CEO Tim Cook speaks during a presentation at Apple headquarters in Cupertino, California October 16, 2014.  REUTERS/Robert Galbraith