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Apple Letter Confirms Company Is Working On Driverless Car Tech

As News Editor of Silicon UK, Roland keeps a keen eye on the daily tech news coverage for the site, while also focusing on stories around cyber security, public sector IT, innovation, AI, and gadgets.

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The Cupertino company looks to be accelerating its autonomous tech plans

Apple has confirmed for the first time that it is working on autonomous driving technology alongside other machine learning-powered tech.

In a letter to the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Cupertino company laid out its plans to make use of smart technology, notably in the automotive world.

“Apple uses machine learning to make its products and services smarter, more intuitive, and more personal. The company is investing heavily in the study of machine learning and automation, and is excited about the potential of automated systems in many areas, including transportation,” wrote Steve Kenner, director of product integrity at Apple.

Apple accelerates journey to driverless cars

s300_driverless_carFor some time speculation has been rife over the work Apple may have been doing with autonomous driving technology under its nebulously named Project Titan; the company was even alleged to have been looking at buying UK performance carmaker McLaren.

However, Project Titan appears to gone through some turmoil with Apple laying off staff said to have been working on driverless technology.

Apple’s letter certainly does not indicate that it is working on a driverless car, but it indicates that the company is likely working on autonomous systems and software to go into cars rather than create a driverless car or autonomous platform in the same fashion as Google.

It is worth noting that Steve Kenner ins not listed as an employee of Apple anywhere, which raised some questions over the validity of the letter. Silicon UK contacted Apple for confirmation on the legitimacy of the letter.

Despite this cautions veneer of doubt, Apple already works on machine learning technology for its software, notably with virtual assistant Siri. So, it would not take too much of a leap in imagination to see Apple tweak Siri to have more car-centric functions possibly activated within cars compatible with its CarPlay iPhone to infotainment interface.

Interestingly, for a company obsessed with privacy and secret, the letter noted that the company welcomes data sharing relating to scenarios, crashed and near-missed around autonomous vehicles, and said it would work with other firms to facilitate such sharing.

“Apple looks forward to collaborating with other stakeholders to define the specific data that should be shared,” wrote Kenner.

While Apple remains tight-lipped over its autonomous tech plans, Google is taking a more open route with its driverless cars due to be tested on London roads.

London is a hotbed of tech startups and innovations. But what do you know about the capital’s relationship with technology?