Apple reveals autonomous vehicle ambitions

December 3, 2016
Apple logo
Apple logo.

Apple has revealed it is investing heavily in autonomous vehicles in a letter asking the government to make it easier to develop self-driving cars.

The company is "excited about the potential of automated systems in many areas, including transportation," Apple said in a November 22 letter to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration offering Apple's opinion about draft regulations for the sector.

"Apple looks forward to collaborating with NHTSA and other stakeholders so that the significant societal benefits of automated vehicles can be realized safely, responsibly, and expeditiously," the company's director of product integrity Steve Kenner wrote.

Apple issued the letter because it is "investing heavily in machine learning and ," an Apple spokesman said in an email to AFP.

"There are many potential applications for these technologies, including the future of transportation, so we want to work with NHTSA to help define the best practices for the industry."

Rumors about Apple's ambitions in the sector have circulated for years.

The company has a separate organization called "Project Titan" that is developing automotive projects.

Although Apple has never officially confirmed the project, several of CEO Tim Cook's comments have fueled speculation.

After a $1 billion investment in a Chinese ride-hailing service called Didi Chuxing, he spoke of "some strategic things that the companies can do together over time."

However, in early September, The New York Times reported that the group had narrowed its ambitions, laying off dozens of staff as part of the project's "reboot."

Instead of designing and producing a complete self-driving car, the group will now concentrate on developing underlying technologies for .

In its letter, Apple urges the NHTSA not to penalize new participants in the sector by restricting the testing of cars under development on public roads, for which established automakers generally have exemptions.

"To maximize the safety benefits of , encourage innovation, and promote fair competition, established manufacturers and new entrants should be treated equally," it says.

Apple also encourages data sharing, particularly for accidents, saying that would enable the industry to "build a more comprehensive dataset than any one company could create alone."

Most major auto manufacturers and many technology groups are currently developing autonomous vehicles, considered to be the future of the automobile, along with electric power, with first production models promised for around 2020.

Explore further: Apple tapping brakes on self-driving cars

Related Stories

Self-driving car race sees flurry of partnerships

August 18, 2016

Uber announced Thursday that it will partner with Volvo to make autonomous vehicles. The tie-up is the latest between automakers and tech companies hoping to speed driverless cars to market. Here's a rundown of who's working ...

Apple revving work on electric car

September 21, 2015

Apple aims to have an electric car on the road some time in the year 2019, according to a report on Monday in the Wall Street Journal.

Recommended for you

Google braces for huge EU fine over Android

July 18, 2018

Google prepared Wednesday to be hit with huge EU fine for freezing out rivals of its Android mobile phone system in a ruling that could spark new tensions between Brussels and Washington.

EU set to fine Google billions over Android: sources

July 17, 2018

The EU is set to fine US internet giant Google several billion euros this week for freezing out rivals of its Android mobile phone system, sources said, in a ruling that risks fresh tensions with Washington.


Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

not rated yet Dec 03, 2016
It is Nice Taste of Apple, Yes- For Sure!
Make the Road-Sign Boards Digital (Something like payphones...Not Exactly!). Once you ask the Car to go to your destination, all of those on the route should receive messages. As the Car runs & communicates with them, you should get + sign as positive message on your car's screen! IT SHOULD Keep Your Mind in Peace! TO REPEAT, Make ALL ROAD-CORNER SIGNS DIGITAL!!!!
not rated yet Dec 04, 2016
Pretty soon you'll be driving cars line straight little lines, controlled by a central computer by the STATE.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.