Apple talks self-driving car regulation in letter to regulators

Apple has never publicly confirmed Project Titan. However, a new letter from Apple to US regulators calls for fairness to new players in the self-driving car industry.
Written by Jake Smith, Contributor
Apple CarPlay, Image: Ford

Apple -- in a November letter to US regulators -- has publicly acknowledged work on autonomous vehicles for the first time, after years of reports surrounding Project Titan.

Steve Kenner, Apple's director of product integrity, sent a five-page letter to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, urging regulators not to impose too many restrictions on self-driving, as the iPhone maker begins testing the technology.

"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," Kenner wrote.

See also: Apple's car letter: What's it driving at?

Apple argued regulation should be fair across the entire industry and that "established manufacturers and new entrants should be treated equally."

Apple also discussed how self-driving car data should be handled:

"Apple agrees that companies should share de-identified scenario and dynamics data from crashes and near-misses. Data should be sufficient to reconstruct the event, including time-series of vehicle kinematics and characteristics of the roadway and objects. By sharing data, the industry will build a more comprehensive dataset than any one company could create alone. This will allow everyone in the industry to design systems to better detect and respond to the broadest set of nominal and edge-case scenarios."

Apple told Reuters in a statement: "There are many potential applications for these technologies, including the future of transportation, so we want to work with NHTSA to help define the best practices for the industry."

In the two years since rumors began of Apple's car plans, the secretive company has never confirmed Project Titan or its automobile intentions.

After reports Project Titan was hitting snags, Bloomberg said in July Apple isn't abandoning its car efforts, but instead it's leaving the option open to partner with automakers while it focuses on the underlying technology.

In pictures: Apple's new MacBook Pro and more revealed at Hello Again event

Editorial standards