Apple calls for more collaboration on driverless cars


The automotive industry needs to do more to share data on driverless cars in order to better understand how to improve the technology, Apple has stated.

The US technology company has long been rumoured to be interested in developing its own autonomous vehicles, and offered its opinions on the sector in a letter sent to the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

In it, the company’s director of product integrity Steve Kenner said Apple is “excited” about the use of automated systems in the transport sector, noting that if implemented effectively, such vehicles have the potential to prevent millions of car crashes every year and bring mobility to people who currently lack it.

While Apple did not explicitly confirm that it is working on a driverless car, the letter did note the company is investing heavily in machine learning and automation.

The iPhone maker urged the US regulator to take a light touch when it comes to rules governing the testing of these cars – in particular stating that established manufacturers and new entrants to the field, such as Apple, should be treated equally when it comes to the regulations they must follow.

It also stated that greater industry collaboration will be essential in developing a strong understanding of driverless technology and where improvements may be made to vehicles or highways.

The letter said: “Companies should share de-identified scenario and dynamics data from crashes and near-misses. Data should be sufficient to reconstruct the event, including time-series of vehicle kinematics and characteristics of the roadway and objects.”

This will allow the industry to build up a much more comprehensive dataset than any one company could achieve alone, allowing vehicle systems and highway design to be improved to take into account any feedback and limitations identified.

Apple added it looks forward to collaborating with the regulator and other stakeholders so that “the significant societal benefits of automated vehicles can be realised safely, responsibly, and expeditiously”.

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