Google and Apple are now long-time enemies. They continue to fight in the smartphone, tablet, smart TV and wearable markets (among others), but recent rumors suggest they are also taking this fight to the road, where self-driving cars are said to rule in the near future. Today we are getting more solid confirmation the iPhone maker is jumping on the self-driving wagon.
Apple has revealed a letter to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, expressing their position on how self-driving vehicle regulations should be handled in the years to come. While the iPhone maker is not confirming its involvement in the market, the sole fact that they have taken the time to write to U.S. regulators means their interest in self-driving cars is strong. This makes previous rumors much more credible than ever.
“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.” -Steve Kenner, Apple Director of Product Integrity
The document goes on to mention matters regarding security, privacy and the benefit of sharing data across companies. Their idea is that companies should share data that could be used to improve all self-driving systems. This would make vehicles more secure for drivers (riders?), as systems could learn from a broader collection of data. But Apple also wants the government to care about privacy, something they should consider when regulating said data.
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Apple then goes on to talk about giving a fair chance to newer manufacturers. It seems more established car makers have an easier time testing vehicles in public roads, while newcomers need to go through more obstacles to get a car out there.
“Both Congress and NHTSA have long recognized that manufacturers need to conduct limited and controlled testing on public roads. In fact, Congress recently enacted a provision in the FAST Act explicitly allowing established manufacturers to test on public roads without pursuing exemptions from FMVSS. But the FAST Act does not provide the same opportunity to new 10 entrants.” -Steve Kenner, Apple Director of Product Integrity
You can read the whole letter by downloading the PDF file here. It is pretty interesting to see this new technology making it to the world, especially considering it will be a life-changing experience. Now we just have to wait and see what Apple has for our future.