Apple training documents leak details of self-driving car project

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lexus
The 2015 Lexus RX450h is Apple's vehicle of choice.
Photo: Lexus

Getting behind the wheel of one of Apple’s self-driving cars requires drivers to pass a series of tests, based on new information about the secretive project that leaked out today.

Details of Apple’s self-driving car program have been revealed by documents filed with the California DMV that shed light on the “Apple Automated System” currently under development.

In the documents obtained by Business Insider, Apple explains the tests each of its drivers must pass before hitting the road.

apple self-driving car
Details of Apple’s ‘Sudden Input’ steering test.
Photo: California DMV

One of the key training issues is learning how to override the car’s autonomous mode to regain manual control of the vehicle. To disengage, drivers simply press the brake pedal or grab the steering wheel. Drivers can still manually accelerate without interrupting the autonomous mode, which Apple calls “drive by wire.”

There are seven tests total. Each driver gets two practice runs and three trials to pass each test on a private course. Once a driver passes all seven, they can finally hit public streets in the self-driving car.

The training packet shows that Apple is using a Logitech wheel and pedals for the self-driving mode. Apple currently has six employees permitted to drive, most of whom have Ph.D.s and specialize in machine learning.

Before they can hit the streets, here are the seven tests drivers need to complete: low-speed driving, high-speed driving, tight U-turn, sudden steering input, sudden acceleration, sudden braking and conflicting turn signal and action.

apple driving test
The list of Apple’s driving tests.
Photo: California DMV