For the first time, Apple has confirmed that it is indeed investing into autonomous driving systems in a letter to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
Written by Apple’s director of product integrity, Steve Kenner, the letter doesn’t specially reference a potential vehicle which the technology company may be developing and instead focuses on its interest in machine learning and automation and pinpoints transportation as a key area of interest.
“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 letter says.
The letter also tells the NHTSA that new entrants in to the auto industry should have the same rights as established companies. As it stands, existing automakers don’t have to pursue exemptions when testing vehicles on public roads but new companies do.
In the letter, Apple also describes the importance of data sharing for autonomous technologies.
“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…. Data sharing should not come at the cost of privacy. Apple believes that companies should invest the resources necessary to protect individuals’ fundamental right to privacy.”
Until Apple releases a statement to the contrary, the latest reports claim that the brand’s ambitions to launch a self-driving, all-electric vehicle have been scrapped and that it is instead focusing solely on developing autonomous systems.