Apple may soon announce their own self-driving iCar
The all new Apple self-driving iCar
Apple may soon announce plans to develop their own version of a self-driving car. The company's self-driving car technology plans have been a poorly kept secret for a while and following a letter written by Apple's director of product integrity, Steve Kenner to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in the United States, their plans may be more advanced than we think.
The company acknowledged that it is "excited" about the prospect of automation in numerous fields "including transportation." It wants to test its own self-driving car in the very near future.
The letter addressed many things including both ethical and regulatory issues. One of their proposals was to get the entire automotive industry to share crash and near-crash data so as to improve public safety on the roads. They also conveyed that this "should not come at the cost of privacy."
They also recognised that some incumbent automakers might have an unfair edge in the market and it wants newcomers to have the "same opportunity" to test self-driving vehicles that more "established" companies do. At the moment, many new companies have to chase after regulatory exemptions.
The letter states."By sharing data, the industry will build a more comprehensive dataset than any one company could create alone,"
"This will allow everyone in the industry to design systems to better detect and respond to the broadest set of nominal and edge-case scenarios.... Data sharing should not come at the cost of privacy. Apple believes that companies should invest the resources necessary to protect individual's’ fundamental right to privacy."
Apple confirmed the letter's core message to the NHTSA concerned "investing heavily in machine learning and autonomous systems,"
"Apple uses machine learning to make its products and services smarter, more intuitive, and more personal...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 plans to scale back its automotive plans, in order to focus underlying tech platforms instead of actual building vehicles. For sure, Apple is very interested in driverless cars but whether they actually develop their own Apple-branded iCar, we will have to wait and see.
"Apple uses machine learning to make its products and services smarter, more intuitive, and more personal," Kenner states in the letter. "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."
The company went on to state in their letter that self-driving vehicles and connected cars should follow "rigorous safety principles," but that these rules and regulations shouldn't prevent companies from making "consequential progress."
The letter does not address Apple's "Project Titan" or any actual vehicle Apple might be working on. The Apple electric car project codenamed "Titan", is an electric car project which allegedly is undergoing research and development by Apple Inc. It was rumoured a substantial number of Apple employees, reportedly a few hundred were working on this project but according to the New York Times, Apple has shut down numerous parts of the project and laid off dozens of employees.
Although the letter to the NHTSA doesn’t shed light on any specific plans by the company, it does reveal the nature of Apple's support for automated car technology. Will we ever see an Apple iCar on the road? We shall have to wait and see but we should maybe not hold our breath.
Justin Kavanagh is a recognised leader in automotive intelligence and vehicle data supply to the entire motor industry. He has almost 20 years experience in building systems from the ground up. As the Managing Director of Vehicle Management System, he understands the need and importance of trustworthy and reliable vehicle history and advice to both the trade and the public.
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