Tech giant Apple is continually developing autonomous driving technology, CEO Tim Cook said in an interview with CNBC, though he was rather cryptic about specific progress made with the development of the long-rumoured Apple Car. This first emerged as Project Titan in 2015, and plans for a complete car were scaled back in 2016 to the development of autonomous driving technology.

“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 with the New York Times.

“We investigate so many things internally. Many of them never see the light of day. [However,] I’m not saying that one will not,” Cook added, also declining comment on whether Apple is developing a car in its entirety or specific technology within the car.

An Apple autonomous vehicle could position the tech firm against Tesla, says CNBC, which has been developing its own self-driving features for its range of vehicles. The California-based EV maker released a beta version of its ‘Full-Self Driving’ software last October, though Waymo CEO John Krafcik said Tesla’s approach isn’t the right one. Tesla CEO Elon Musk responded thereafter, saying Tesla has better AI software and hardware.

“We love to integrate hardware, software and services, and find the intersection points of those because we think that’s where the magic occurs. That’s what we love to do, and we love to own the primary technology that’s around that, Apple CEO Cook said.

The perception of ownership could be the point of contention with the established automakers that Apple was rumoured to be have been in talks with. Last month, The Financial Times reported that Nissan was not actually in talks with Apple for the joint development of a self-driving electric vehicle, following up on an earlier report citing the Japanese automaker’s interest.

The Financial Times cited ‘many carmakers’ expressing fear of being downgraded from automaker to mere hardware supplier, or becoming “the Foxconn of the automotive industry”, referring to the Taiwanese manufacturing group that assembles iPhones.

“We have our own customer satisfaction, which comes by car. No way we are going to change the way we make cars. The way we design, develop, and manufacture is going to be as an automotive manufacturer, as Nissan,” said Nissan chief operating officer Sanjay Gupta in an interview with the Financial Times.

Prior to the Nissan chapter of the Apple Car story, the tech firm was reportedly in talks with Hyundai/Kia for the development of autonomous electric vehicles, which, at the beginning of the year, was set for production in 2024. The Korean manufacturer group stated shortly after that this wasn’t the case.

This followed an earlier report that Hyundai was handing over responsibilities for the self-driving EV to Kia, and which speculated that Hyundai has decided to distance its brand from the Apple car project out of brand reputation concerns.