Apple training documents leak details of self-driving car project


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
  • OrdinaryUser

    Instead of trying to generate blizzards of self-publicity, perhaps Apple should pay a little more attention to the disaster area which they call Safari, And a little less attention to grandiose plans of self-driving cars and satellites. My Safari is unusable on any site that contains HTML5 blobs, and there are so many other bugs and inadequacies that it’s a corporate disgrace.

    Tim Cook has shown himself to be adept at self-promotion, putting himself in all sorts of boards and in the company of all sorts of (perceivedly) important people at luxury dinners and the like. Steve Jobs was a world-class asshole, but Tim Cook badly needs to take some time off from promoting LGBT (which he only does because he’s gay himself) and pay a more attention to what used to be the core Apple attributes,like quality and relevance. Now it seems they can only build phones.

    A short while ago, I got so fed up with buggy software releases, hardware that doesn’t work on release, new keyboards which fail after a year, and new ‘features’ like emoji’s for the brain-dead or Night Shift for drones with a fixation on gimicks, as well as occasional other cheap, cosmetic, or trivial changes, that I built a Hackintosh. It’s faster and more stable than any Mac I’ve ever owned, and it cost about one third of what Apple charges for the equivalent in their drive for yet more profits from the (not very bright) fanboi community they’ve created. even their keyboards don’t last more than a year, I’ve got three in the box and looking at, and they’re all dead. I will never, ever buy anything else from Apple, and I’ve long since stopped being a fanboi, neither of which have been affected by any of the articles about phones and watches that appear to dominate what used to be reputable and useful publications like ‘Cult of Mac’.

    Sooner or later, the real world will wake up to Apple and see that it’s now got nothing worthwhile inside. Well done Mr Cook and the used-car salesmen that you surround yourself with.

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  • gianluca iO

    What seems strange to me is that while we can feature some rumors on self driving software that is in prototype phase (DMV street permission, document leaked and so on), no rumors or leak has been mentioned on the “apple car” it self.

    i mean, i do not believe that apple can produce a self driving software only (it’s opposite to its history to dominate end to end the user experience), but it’s more probable that will start with a “normal” car (electric ? more green than the current existing ones ? ) and then after a progressive evolution introduce the self driving software.

    The issue is that there’s no leak or any rumor or a car it self. May be i’m wrong but sounds weird to me.