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Published: Mon, December 05, 2016
Research | By Jennifer Evans

Apple reveals it is investing 'heavily' in driverless cars


Tesla took a page from the Apple playbook when it created electric cars that are more like computers.

Conflicting rumors of Apple's connected vehicle plans have been swirling for some time.

Not surprisingly, the letter showed Apple's autonomous-vehicle ambitions go beyond the U.S. Mr. Kenner encouraged the agency to work with global groups such as the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe and others to develop a 'harmonized approach to automated vehicles'.

In an apparent hint about Apple's Project Titan initiative, Kenner has clearly mentioned in the letter that the company is "investing heavily in the study of machine learning and automation". The deadline for comment was November 22, the date of Apple's letter, but it's not clear when the letter was posted online by the government.

However, even if no comment on the subject has been published by the company, it appears as if Apple can not deny it anymore, not after what it stated in the letter to the NHTSA, where it provided comments on the federal government's automated vehicle guidelines.

Apple makes a number of requests in the letter, most notably that new entrants to the industry - like Apple - should be treated equally to long-time auto makers, to "maximise the safety benefits...encourage innovation, and promote fair competition".

Google is already testing self-driving cars on the roads.

Apple's interested in the world of cars, that much seems to be certain - but the details of what it's working on, when we'll see it and how much of a priority it is for the Cupertino company remain something of a mystery.

He called on the U.S. highways regulator to encourage data sharing between firms "to build a more comprehensive dataset than any one company could create alone".

Apple joins a range of automakers and tech companies that have raised concerns about the proposed National Highway Traffic Safety Administration policy on self-driving cars, and plans by California state regulators to make complying with the safety assessment mandatory. For example, Kenner suggests that companies be able to test autonomous vehicles on the road without having to apply for the exemption now required by the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards - an exemption that, he argues, slows down the development process.

Apple has confirmed it is working on the technology for a self-driving vehicle.

In his letter to NHTSA, Apple asks in particular that new entrants are not penalized by tougher regulatory requirements as established manufacturers.

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