Finally. That's all that can be really said about Apple admitting to the world that it's working on autonomous driving technologies. The company has been infamously, and perhaps infuriatingly mum on the fact that it's been working on such tech, even though there have been a countless number of hints to it. Well, we now know that Apple is indeed working on self-driving technologies.
Apple could be targeting the likes of Tesla sooner than later...
In a letter to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), Apple says that it's feeding off of its expertise in machine-learning to help create automated systems, particularly in the transportation market:
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.
Apple goes on to highlight some obvious benefits of its ventures, including making the roads safer, which will of course result in less fatalities. Another interesting angle was mentioned: autonomous driving will allow those who've never driven before to do so. This isn't a matter of simply not having a license; picture those who physically can't drive. Autonomous driving could make a dramatic improvement to their lives.
A future autonomous car showroom?
One of the biggest hurdles companies targeting autonomous driving have faced is the slowness of getting new laws passed, or current outdated laws holding back innovation. Apple thus asks in its letter that the NHTSA "expedite requests for exemption and interpretation and petitions for rulemaking". It's hard to say whether or not this plea will be successful, but it'll be interesting to find out.
It's not made explicitly clear in the letter whether or not Apple is working on its own automobile, or if it's simply going to be licensing its technology to traditional automakers.