Apple Finally Admits it's Working on Autonomous Cars

Apple car concept 1 photo
Photo: Franco Grassi
A lot of things happened on November 22, 2016, but a mysterious letter from Apple to the NHTSA recently became the hottest topic of discussion among driverless cars nerds around the planet.
In the official letter sent to the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration, Apple discussed many topics, but the biggest news was the fact that it's “excited about the potential of automated systems in many areas, including transportation.”

For most car pundits out there, that phrase signaled that Apple is finally admitting its focus on making an autonomous car at some point. The rumors surrounding the so-called “Project Titan” have been swirling for years, and the Cupertino giant added fuel to the fire by buying the, and domain names at the beginning of 2016.

Since then, there has been news about Apple patenting an articulated steering system for tracked vehicles, about the Project Titan being demoted to self-driving software and/or about the project itself being pushed back to at least 2020.

Nothing is certain as of yet, but the NHTSA letter sure does a lot of that “pour fuel over a fire,” especially because of some of its content. It was written by Steve Kenner, who is the director of product integrity and, among other things, it also urges the U.S. regulator not to go full throttle on establishing new rules on autonomous car testing in the real world.

The bit that reeks most of Apple is the proposal to somehow make companies working on this type of technology share date from crashes and near-crashes so that everyone could benefit and create safer systems from the get-go.

The letter also tackles personal privacy concerns, adding that both the industry and the NHTSA should “address privacy challenges associated with the collection, use, and sharing of automated vehicles data,” using advice and collaboration from privacy experts that aren't necessarily linked to the automotive industry.

You can take whatever you want out of these snippets of information, but we have a strong feeling that Apple won't be making a fully autonomous car anytime soon, now will anyone else for that matter. That said, they are definitely working on something related to this subject. The dawn of self-driving cars is near, but it's not yet here, though.
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About the author: Alex Oagana
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Alex handled his first real steering wheel at the age of five (on a field) and started practicing "Scandinavian Flicks" at 14 (on non-public gravel roads). Following his time at the University of Journalism, he landed his first real job at the local franchise of Top Gear magazine a few years before Mircea (Panait). Not long after, Alex entered the New Media realm with the project.
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