Apple Demos Latest Self-Driving Car Tech Proving It's Still In The Autonomous Vehicle Game

Apple's director of AI, Ruslan Salakhutdinov, was on hand at the Neural Information Processing Systems conference, a large AI-focused academic event held recently in California. During the chat, Salakhutdinov talked about Apple's AI projects and several of them were related to autonomous driving pursuits.


One of the projects that was talked about had to do with a system trained to recognize pedestrians and other vehicles from 3D-point cloud information. This project had been disclosed by Apple previously, however, a couple of the projects that Salakhutdinov covered were not previously revealed.

One of those projects uses cameras placed on top of the vehicle as a way to classify different objects on the road. Another project used camera footage to very precisely track the position of the car on the road. That technique is called visual SLAM (simultaneous location and mapping) could be used for autonomous driving, but could also have uses in augmented reality and virtual reality.

The interesting part about Apple talking about these projects during the conference is that the company has still not publicly acknowledged that it is working on autonomous driving. However, it is common knowledge that Apple has applied for a permit for testing autonomous vehicles in California. Tim Cook, Apple CEO, has also stated that the company is working on autonomous systems going so far as to say that autonomous autos were "the mother of all AI projects."

Also during the conferences, Apple's director of machine learning Carlos Guestrin talked a bit about large-scale machine learning efforts including some of the tech behind the iPhone X facial recognition system.