Apple meets US regulator over driverless cars

19 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Apple meets with California DMV to talk about self-driving cars, The Guardian reports.

Apple met with California’s Department of Motor Vehicles in August to discuss self-driving vehicles, which means an Apple-branded electric car might be closer to hitting the road than previously expected.

It’s not called the iCar — yet — but Apple’s secrecy-shrouded driverless vehicle, code named “Project Titan,” has taken a big step toward hitting the roads of California. The Guardian caught wind of the meeting from DMV documents, and confirmed with the department’s officials that “the Apple meeting was to review DMV’s autonomous vehicle regulations.” The California DMV doesn’t exactly have self-driving car regulations, but it’s working to establish guidelines manufacturers to follow before releasing their autonomous cars to the public. Attendees included a member of Apple’s senior legal team — logical, considering how deeply involved lawmaking will be in the future of autonomous driving — plus a handful of the DMV’s self-driving advocates and its chief counsel. Though Apple has been rumored to be shopping around for manufacturing partners, there isn’t any evidence they’ve found one — and if they’ve decided to make a vehicle on their own, they’ve yet to acquire the factories or the supply chain relationships to make that happen.

California’s DMV oversees the autonomous vehicle tester program in the state; to date, 10 companies, including Honda and BMW, have been issued permits for 80 autonomous cars and over 300 test drivers. And, of course, it makes sense that Apple would want to meet early and often with the regulatory agencies that will be dictating how its car operates both in testing and in production. But the report is right about one thing: developing a car in complete secrecy, as it likes to do with everything else it makes, will become increasingly difficult as Apple moves closer to production. The Guardian noted that Apple can keep its car under wraps by testing it on private property, but that’s not the same as a test on public roads in real conditions. The story behind the story: When rumors of an Apple car first emerged, it seemed like the company was in the very early stages of envisioning what its self-driving vehicle would be like.

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