Apple letter to U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows interest in autonomous vehicle testing, inter-company data sharing
Date: Monday, December 5th, 2016, 05:15
Category: Apple Car, Hardware, News
Just when you thought Apple might have backed off a bit from the self-driving car market, this shows up.
Last week, the company submitted a letter to the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) that suggests it’s currently eager to work with other companies in a data-sharing effort but is also keen to preserve privacy, which is in line with the hard-line stance it took in the Apple-FBI controversy earlier this year.
The letter is perhaps the most tangible proof of Apple’s interest in the autonomous vehicle market and offers the following passage written by Steve Kenner, Apple’s director of product integrity, on November 22nd:
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.
The company wants to have control over the exact arrangements of the data-sharing program.
“Apple agrees that companies should share de-identified scenario and dynamics data from crashes and near-misses,” Kenner wrote. “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. 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.”
Interestingly, the letter points out that Apple would like “new entrants” to the autonomous vehicle market to have “the same opportunity” that “established manufacturers” have when it comes to testing on public roads, “without pursuing exemptions” included in regulations known as the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards. But, Kenner pointed out, The Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act currently doesn’t allow for that.
“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,” Kenner wrote to conclude the letter.
So, there may be something interesting coming down the pipe.
Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.