Apple is focusing its efforts on “autonomous systems” as the “mother of all AI,” CEO Tim Cook said in a recent Bloomberg Television interview. And self-driving technology will be a core component of the firm’s work in autonomous systems.

There are major disruptions looming in the automotive field in terms of both self-driving technologies and the “electrification” of vehicles, Cook said in the interview. Apple is working on foundational technologies for autonomous vehicles, but that’s only one aspect of their plans in the space, Cook said.

“We’re focusing on autonomous systems,” Cook said in the interview. “And, clearly, one purpose of autonomous systems is self-driving cars. There are others.”

SEE: Autonomous driving levels 0 to 5: Understanding the differences

Cook went on to say that Apple wouldn’t reveal what it was doing with autonomous systems in terms of product development, but that the company sees autonomous systems as a critical focus, and one of the most difficult problems to work on.

Early rumors around Apple’s work in the automotive space included the idea that the company was working on building its own car. However, it seems that Apple has since killed those plans in favor of working on a self-driving platform.

It was also rumored that Apple was working on an electric vehicle to compete with Tesla. But, Steve Zadesky leaving the company in early 2016 seemed to indicate that those plans were also being put on hold.

AI, in general, is poised to be the next battleground among the tech elite in Silicon Valley. Where AI-based digital assistants provide context in mobile devices, AI and autonomous systems will continue to grow as another competitive space where Apple, Google, Tesla and more fight to bring more users into their respective ecosystems.

The 3 big takeaways for TechRepublic readers

  1. Apple CEO Tim Cook confirmed in a Bloomberg Television interview that the company is working on autonomous systems, including self-driving car technology.
  2. Apple was initially rumored to be working on an electric car, but it seems that those plans have been shelved in favor of the autonomous tech.
  3. Automotive AI will likely be one of the next big battlegrounds where tech titans compete for new users.