Apple tips hand on autonomous car ambitions

December 05, 2016 //By Julien Happich
Apple tips hand on autonomous car ambitions
Confirming for the first time its position as a new entrant in the autonomous car industry - at least for now as a technology provider - Apple (Cupertino, CA) has written a letter to the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) urging the regulator to promote fair competition between newcomers to the automotive industry and traditional manufacturers.

The letter is addressed by Apple as "comments" on the recently proposed Federal Automated Vehicles Policy, published by the Department of Transportation (DoT) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

Signed by Steve Kenner, Apple’s director of product integrity, the letter makes statements on the company's use of machine learning to build smarter systems and its investments in machine learning for automated systems, including transportation, before calling for more data sharing between manufacturers to boost learning and increase overall road safety.

"Apple agrees that companies should share de-identified scenario and dynamics data from crashes and near-misses. Data should be sufficient to reconstruct the event, including time series of vehicle kinematics and characteristics of the roadway and objects. By sharing data, the industry will build a more comprehensive dataset than any one company could create alone", he wrote.

The Silicon Valley giant is also calling for industry-wide cooperation on data when Kenner writes: "Apple looks forward to collaborating with other stakeholders to define the specific data that should be shared".

With this piece of advice to the NHTSA, the company aims to drive best practices for the whole industry while not being left behind as a new entrant in the automotive sector.

“To maximize the safety benefits of automated vehicles, encourage innovation, and promote fair competition, established manufacturers and new entrants should be treated equally,” Apple writes.

The letter becomes more specific regarding testing vehicles still under development on public roads, with a full chapter trying to convince the regulator that all would win, car makers and the general public's safety, if more exemptions were the norm.

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