Industry News

Apple Offers First Peek Inside its Self-Driving Car Program

This article was written by Paul A. Eisenstein for

DETROIT, MI (11.28.2017) – Scientists at Apple Inc. have offered the first clear hint of the direction they may be taking with the long-rumored Apple Car.

A Fisker EMotion was spotted at Apple HQ in Silicon Valley.

A Fisker EMotion was spotted at Apple HQ in Silicon Valley.

A research paper published by online journal arXiv is particularly unusual because it seems to sidestep Apple’s traditionally fanatic desire to keep future products top secret until they’re ready to roll out onto the market.

Indeed, Apple has yet to fully confirm it is even interested in getting into the automotive business, though speculation centers around the company developing autonomous technology it will license out, rather than actually building its own vehicles.

The new research paper, authored by Yin Zhou and Oncel Tuzel, focuses on new software that it claims can make it significantly easier for an autonomous, or a fully driverless, vehicle to spot three-dimensional objects, such as a pedestrian or cyclist.

The researchers say they have achieved “highly encouraging results” by using just LIDAR, a high-definition laser system, rather than having to rely on a mix of LIDAR, radar and machine vision.

logo_detroit-bureauSo far, the “VoxelNet” system has only been tested through computer simulations, but if it proves viable in the real world it could substantially simplify the technology needed for a fully autonomous vehicle. Right now, most manufacturers expect they will need a so-called “sensor fusion” to fully identify what’s happening on the road around a self-driving vehicle.

Exactly how this fits into Apple’s automotive plans is far from clear, largely because Apple has yet to confirm it actually has any automotive plans.

Rumors of an Apple Car have been circulating for several years, the Wall Street Journal even reporting the program had been dubbed Project Titan, with the Silicon Valley tech giant hiring a number of talented engineers and managers from conventional automakers, as well as tech-oriented rivals like Tesla.

Click here to read the full article by Paul A. Eisenstein at The Detroit Bureau