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It’s hard to say exactly where Apple stands, at this point, in regards to the company’s ongoing automotive project.. While some reports suggest that Cupertino has straight up abandoned the prospect of developing its own autonomous automobile, other reports have suggested that Apple has merely shifted focus — instead channeling its energies on developing the software component (enter, carOS) of what makes a self-driving car, a self-driving car.
Through all the twists and turns that Apple’s automotive project seems to take, let us not lose sight of the fact that the company is, indeed, still working on a car — in some undisclosed, albeit highly speculated capacity. That reality was all but confirmed in an open letter — written by Apple’s director of product integrity, Steve Kenner, and addressed to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration — which was discovered earlier this week by Venture Beat.
Within the context of the letter, Kenner argues that while the Federal Automated Vehicles Policy (FAVP) “paves a safe and flexible path toward the development of automated vehicles,” the current slate of regulations could “be more open” for companies new to the industry.
The FAVP was introduced last September, and is intended to act as a set of regulations for effectively governing the impending “self-driving car future” — which, according to AppleInsider, is a scenario that could see tech companies like Apple and Google team up with automotive firms like Ford, Toyota, and Volkswagen.
Kenner essentially echoes the recent mumblings from Apple CEO Tim Cook, who has suggested that his company is, in fact, “interested in bringing machine learning and automation tech to the personal transportation arena.”
However, Kenner, within his letter, goes much deeper than the concept of Apple merely “hopping aboard the self-driving car bandwagon” — but rather, he outlines a crucial set of “ethical dimensions” pertinent to self-driving car law where he believes the federal government needs to lend extra attention.
Kenner suggests “that the implications of artificial decision making on safety, mobility, and legality; ensuring privacy and security in automated vehicle design; and the impact driverless vehicles will have on the public good” — are all fundamental areas where regulations need to be addressed.
Furthermore, Kenner expressed that his company has taken issue with certain exemptions set forth in the NHTSA guidelines — in particular, how the policy’s wording appears to suggest that companies like Apple — with no prior experience testing vehicles on the open roads — need “prior exemption for public road testing not compliant with Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards.”
It’s going to be a little while until we get a better feel for where Apple is truly headed in its pursuit to capture a slice of the self-driving car market — but one thing is for certain: the company is already doing a great job working all the legal and ethical kinks out of its master plan.
Do you believe Apple is still attempting to build a car? Or maybe something else?
Let us know in the comments!
[The information provided in this article has NOT been confirmed by Apple and may be speculation. Provided details may not be factual. Take all rumors, tech or otherwise, with a grain of salt.]