While Apple has confirmed its interest in self-driving technology and has asked to be treated ‘en pars’ with existing traditional car manufacturers, it has feigned disinterest in developing its own car and has instead requested the sharing of near-crash and crash data from existing players. Apple wants to focus on the underlying technologies of the platform rather than build a car, so it said.
Apple’s interest in self-driving technology has been an open secret. With the company sending a letter to the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, this is the official confirmation of the open secret and its interest in autonomous vehicle technology.
In its letter, Apple has stated that it is “excited” about automation technology in numerous fields, “including transportation.”
In its aim to test self-driving car technology, Apple hopes to address, both regulatory and ethical issues. It believes the auto industry should share near-crash and crash data to improve safety. Taking a more defensive stance, Apple has said this should however “not come at the cost of privacy.”
Of significant note, Apple believes traditional car manufacturers have an unfair edge. Being a newbie in this industry, it wants newcomers to have the “same opportunity” to test self-driving vehicles that “established” companies do, without having to chase after regulatory exemptions, as is the current practice.
In a statement to the Financial Times, Cupertino has said its core message to the regulatory authority has been that because it is “investing heavily in machine learning and autonomous systems,” and because it wants to help shape “best practices” for self-driving cars, crash data and near-crash data should be shared with it so that it can play catch up with the companies which had identified self-driving tech early on in the game and have gained an edge.
Although Apple has yet to confirm what is it that it is making, there have been reports that it has scaled back its automotive plans and is instead focusing on the underlying tech platform of autonomous vehicles.
Apple has thus confirmed its interest in autonomous vehicles but has yet to confirm whether we will see an Apple car on the road. With the self-driving car industry set to boom by 2020, in the coming years, we will finally get to know in what capacity will Apple contribute to this industry.