Apple has been extremely secretive about whether or not they’re working on self-driving car technology, but it looks more and more that they probably are.
Apple sent a letter to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in which the tech giant asserts that it 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.”
The letter, linked below, is Apple’s official comment on the guidelines for automated vehicles set by the federal government.
If Apple made a car, would it still have windows? pic.twitter.com/hlywE5BqHF
— Because I’m a Guy (@CauseWereGuys) December 1, 2016
This brings with it some severe irony, because the signature on the bottom of Apple’s letter also happens to be the signature of the former global director of automotive safety at Ford; Steven Kenner.
The change from Ford to Apple is actually so recent that his LinkedIn page still says Ford on it.
Apple’s comments can be found in a PDF here.
Apple confirms open secret: It’s ‘investing heavily’ in machine learning, autonomous car https://t.co/wJF76TwGLW
— CNBC (@CNBC) December 3, 2016
Reportedly Apple doesn’t desire to build their own cars and compete with Tesla, but Apple looks to be developing self-driving software that it can license to existing carmakers.
This letter comes amid news that hundreds of members of Apple’s 1,000-employee-strong car team have been reassigned, let go, or have left of their own volition. The shift toward software is part of a new plan from longtime Apple executive Bob Mansfield, who came out of retirement to lead the Titan division after former project head Steven Zadesky left the company earlier this year.
A lobbying group representing some of the main players in the self-driving car space, such as Google, Uber, Ford, Volvo, and Lyft, are pushing back against the government’s request for companies to share data and safety specifications. But Apple says it would be ok with sharing data. This is highly ironic seeing as how it’s the same Apple that refused to unlock a terrorists iPhone earlier this year.