DMV Meets Apple to Discuss Rules of Road for Testing Self-Driving Cars

20 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Apple did what anyone wanting to use California’s roadways must do: Talk to the DMV.

SAN FRANCISCO – The California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) has said that it met with Apple to discuss rules of the road regarding testing self-driving cars. San Francisco/Frankfurt: Apple executives met with officials from California’s automotive regulator to discuss self-driving vehicles, in the latest sign of Silicon Valley companies’ growing ambitions in the car sector. “DMV often meets with various companies regarding DMV operations. Apple has not commented on rumors that it is working on a self-driving car, and the California-based technology colossus did not respond to an AFP request to contribute to this story. 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.

Toyota early this month announced plans to invest $50 million into building artificial intelligence into cars, an indication it could be joining the race to develop driverless vehicles. The Financial Times first reported that Apple was assembling a team of automotive experts in a secret R&D lab close to its Silicon Valley headquarters in February, amid reports that a minivan with an array of cameras and sensors mounted on its roof, registered to the iPhone maker, was spotted on roads around the San Francisco Bay Area. The Guardian says it obtained documents stating that Apple senior legal counsel Mike Maletic had an hour-long meeting on August 17 with the DMV’s self-driving car experts, Bernard Soriano and Stephanie Dougherty.

The joint research with Stanford University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology will take place over the next five years, Toyota Motor Corporation said, emphasizing its interest in technology that could be used by people as they grow old or become less able to drive safely. ” A Stanford lab led by professor Fei-Fei Li will work with Toyota and MIT to use computer vision, machine learning and large-scale data analysis to enable vehicles to navigate complex traffic situations. “Our team will work to help intelligent vehicles recognize objects in the road, predict behaviors of things and people, and make safe and smart driving decisions under diverse conditions,” Li said. The Wall Street Journal reported in February that Apple already had “hundreds of employees” working on its autonomous car project, which CEO Tim Cook apparently green-lit a year ago. Tim Cook, Apple’s chief executive, visited BMW’s headquarters last year to discuss a potential collaboration with the luxury carmaker, according to reports in German media. The project — dubbed “Titan” — could end up involving as many as 1,000 Apple employees, said the WSJ, citing sources familiar with the project.

Sir Jonathan Ive, Apple’s chief design officer, has a collection of sports cars and is chauffeured to work in a Bentley, according to a New Yorker profile, while Eddy Cue, head of its iTunes and services business, sits on the board of Ferrari. In June, Sir Jonathan was among around 20 high-level attendees from the automotive and technology industries at a meeting to discuss the future of the car, held at the Goodwood Festival of Speed in England. 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. Also present at the meeting, convened by Lord March, owner of the Goodwood estate, were auto industry luminaries such as Daimler chief executive Dieter Zetsche and top management from General Motors, BMW and Aston Martin.

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. But the signal that Silicon Valley has the automotive sector in its targets was plain to see, one of the guests told the FT. “It was clear: the barbarians are at the gate.” Earlier this week, on the eve of the Frankfurt motor show, Google announced that it had poached former Hyundai and Truecar veteran Jeff Krafcik to head its driverless car venture.

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