Apple developing self driving car software
Apple confirmed its interest in developing self-driving software on Friday, although it is still doubtful the company will delve into actual automaking.
Steve Kenner, Apple’s director of product integrity, indicated in a Nov. 22 letter to U.S. transportation regulators that Apple is focusing on building the software to manage a self-driving car, according to the Wall Street Journal. Per the letter, the company is “investing heavily in machine learning and automation” for many purposes “including transportation.”
This is the first time Apple has publicly said anything about Project Titan, its ultra-secretive self-driving car effort. An Apple spokesman told the Journal that the company provided comments to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration because of its investments in automation and machine learning, a type of software.
“We want to work with NHTSA to help define the best practices for the industry,” the spokesman told the Journal.
In the letter, Apple said it supports the NHTSA’s plan to share data on accidents in hopes of improving the software. The Cupertino-based company also requested that Congress and the NHTSA alter rules that allow traditional auto companies to perform controlled tests of self-driving cars, while making companies like Apple to apply for exemption to do similar tests. Kenner wrote the rule change would “promote fair competition, established manufacturers and new entrants should be treated equally.”
Apple’s letter was one of more than 1,100 that companies submitted to NHTSA, per the report. The agency is currently considering new regulations for autonomous vehicles. Other companies that submitted comments included General Motors and Google parent Alphabet Inc.
News that Apple is still pursuing a car operating system comes as hundreds within the company’s auto unit have reportedly left or been reassigned in recent months as the tech giant scales back its plans and gives up on building its own cars. In October, Bloomberg cited unnamed sources who said that the car team has been given until late next year to prove the feasibility of the self-driving system and decide on a final direction.
Source: Wall Street Journal