Apple’s secret car project is less secret than ever

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Avoidance collision in a self-driving car looks something like this.
Avoidance collision in a self-driving car looks something like this.
Document: Apple/U.S. Patent and Trademark Office

If there was doubt Apple is moving forward with development of a self-driving car program, events over the last week show Cupertino is indeed mapping out a course.

An Apple patent application for an autonomous vehicle collision-avoidance system published Thursday is the second public acknowledgment that Cupertino is very much in the game.

The Apple patent application, titled “Collision Avoidance of Arbitrary Polygonal Obstacles,” was filed in June 2015. It comes to light just five days after a letter from Apple to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration went public. That letter indicated Apple is invested in software for self-driving cars.

Apple has never publicly acknowledged what many in the tech community refer to as an open secret. However, the patent and the NHTSA letter, written by Steve Kenner, Apple’s director of product integrity, confirm the company’s interest in the rapidly developing space. They also offer details about Apple’s role in autonomous driving.

Apple self-driving patent
Apple’s patent illustration filed Thursday.
Document: Apple/U.S. Patent and Trademark Office

The collision-avoidance concept Apple filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office shows how the company would apply machine learning to navigate two- and three-dimensional spaces and avoid moving and stationary objects in those spaces.

Sensors could pick up objects in the vehicle’s view and predict potential collisions by comparing the distance of the known radius with the edge of objects. If the system determines the objects are outside the radius, the vehicle continues its motion.

In the Nov. 22 letter to the federal government, Kenner sought exemption from the public submission of paperwork for Apple’s internal vehicle testing, according to a report by Business Insider. Apple wants to speed up testing and keep Apple’s work secret. Kenner argued the NHTSA could, under law, grant an exemption because the tests would not be done in public.

Apple’s Project Titan team has been reportedly working on car projects around California since 2014. While Apple seemed to be on a path to build an electric car, the project was reportedly scaled back to concentrate on software for autonomous driving.

Source: U.S. Patent and Trademark Office

Via: Apple Insider and Business Insider