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Apple reportedly sent a letter to the California Department of Motor Vehicles asking the agency to alter its requirements and protocols. Specifically, Apple is asking the DMV to “amend or clarify” certain aspects of its disengagement reporting requirements, definitions, and driver-less testing of autonomous vehicles. “Apple believes that public acceptance is essential to the advancement of automated vehicles,” the company wrote in the letter, which was first spotted by Reuters. “However, the current and proposed disengagement reporting requirements do not achieve this result.”
Disengagement is defined as any time a human driver must take over operations of an autonomous vehicle — and the DMV currently requires companies to report disengagement for a variety of reasons. Apple wants the agency to amend this, and require a report only when a driver takes over to present a crash or traffic violation. Presumably, the company is worried about negative media coverage of disengagements causing public concern or confusion.
The company also asked the DMV to remove a portion of its protocol that requires companies to describe incidents that could have occurred without a human driver in reports. Namely because “it requires speculation about future events that have not occurred,” Apple said in the letter. If the DMV decides to comply with Apple’s request letter, disengagement reports would obviously contain much less information than they currently do.
In addition to lobbying for those altered policies, Apple is also asking the DMV to remove some duplicate language in their protocols that currently excludes commercial vehicles from testing, as well as updating the required abilities of vehicles tested without safety drivers.
Apple was just recently granted a permit by the DMV that would allow them to begin testing their self-driving systems on open roads in California. Less than a week later, internal documents were leaked describing Apple’s automated systems and the Lexus EX450h SUVs they would be used in.