As we learned in October, Apple would have abandoned its plans to create a electric car to focus only on self-guided vehicles. New evidence confirms that the company is interested in entering this business.
As the VentureBeat, Apple wrote a letter to the United States National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, or NHTSA), signed by your product integrity director, Steve Kenner, stating that he is interested in ?machine learning (machine learning) and automation ?:
Apple uses machine learning to make its products and services smarter, more intuitive and more personal. The company is investing heavily in machine learning and automation, and is excited about the potential of automated systems in many areas, including transportation.
In the letter, Apple recalls that automakers already established in the industry do not need to request exemptions from the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS, or ?Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards?) to test cars on public roads due to the America’s Surface Transport Fixing Act (Fixing America?s Surface Transportation Act, or FAST). However, anyone new to the auto industry does not get the same benefit under this law; a, a request is made for the same rule to apply to new companies in order to promote ?fair competition? and encourage innovation.
In addition, it is also proposed in the letter that there be a data sharing program between companies, mainly regarding information on crashes or (almost) accidents.
The data must be sufficient to reconstruct the event, including the time series of vehicle kinematics and the characteristics of roads and objects. By sharing data, the industry will build a more comprehensive data set than any company could create alone.
Even with the proposal, privacy remains paramount for Apple, which claims there is no need to sacrifice privacy when sharing data: «Apple believes that companies should invest the resources necessary to protect individuals’ fundamental right to privacy.»
Confirming Apple’s letter and interest in improving laws for self-driving vehicles, a company spokesman gave his opinion to the Financial Times:
We provide NHTSA reviews because Apple is investing in machine learning and autonomous systems. There are many possible applications for these technologies, including the future of transportation, so we want to work with NHTSA to help define best practices for the industry.
Although it is interesting for a representative to speak even briefly to the press, there is not much information in the letter or in the statement that would lead us to definitively confirm that there is a vehicle being manufactured by the company. On the other hand, the interest in autonomous systems and ?best practices for the industry? turns out to be very suspicious.