Wednesday, 20 September, 2017

Apple receives permit to test self-driving cars on California roads

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Theresa Hayes | 20 April, 2017, 06:43

The thing is, the permit is for the cars themselves, but actually applies to the technology behind the self-driving capability of those cars. It has been referred to as "part of an initiative called Project Titan".

He had mentioned, following a $ 1 billion investment made in the spring in the Chinese vehicle booking company with driver Didi, "strategic things that the two companies can do together over time".

To date, the tech giant has been infuriatingly secretive about it's efforts to build a self-driving vehicle, code named Project Titan.

Apple is just one of 30 companies that is on the list, which includes also includes Tesla and Google, whose involvement in the driverless auto field is already well-known. Other big brands who have been granted this permit are Google, Tesla and Ford.

Apple executives have been coy about their interest in cars. Apple itself declined to comment about the permit, instead referring The Verge to a letter it sent to the USA federal government in December 2016 which stated that Apple is "investing heavily in machine learning and autonomous systems". In response, a DMV spokesperson told the Financial Times that the license covers three 2015 Lexus RX450h hybrids and six drivers.

My personal guess would be that Apple is working towards the development of complete self-driving vehicle tech + vehicle operating systems - in other words, towards development of Apple-branded self-driving vehicle operating systems and hardware. Under the state's testing regulations, all autonomous vehicles on the road will require a person behind the wheel to monitor testing. Many companies sign up for the permit, but report no miles driven.

According to the DMV, disengagements occur "when a failure of the autonomous technology is detected" or "when the safe operation of the vehicle requires that the autonomous vehicle test driver disengage the autonomous mode and take immediate manual control of the vehicle".

Uber recently made a decision to temporally "put the breaks", so to speak, on testing driverless cars due to a crash in Arizona, according to Bloomberg Technology.

In December, Apple had already written to the US Federal Road Safety Agency (NHTSA) to advise on draft guidelines for stand-alone cars.