Apple appears to be creating an ecosystem for the self-driving car market and is seeking greater clarity for its parameters.
In a strategic move which has immense significance for companies in the crowded self-driving car market, Apple Inc has urged California to toughen its proposed policy on the testing of self-driving cars. The move could potentially help self-driving car startups to catch up with rivals.
In the letter, which Apple made public on Friday, it has suggested a series of changes to the draft policy, which is currently being worked on, and has stated it looks forward to working with California and others states “so that rapid technology development may be realised while ensuring the safety of the travelling public.”
Tesla Motors Inc, Ford Motor Co, Uber Technologies Inc, Toyota Motor Corp and Waymo, Alphabet’s self-driving car unit and others have also proposed changes.
California has disclosed it would review the comments before deciding on whether it will adopt them to its policy that aims to allow companies to test their vehicles that aren’t fitted with traditional controls and steering wheels or human back-up drivers.
California has emerged in the forefront as the key state for self-driving vehicles and the proposed changes from automakers and technology companies has the potential to further boost its ranking.
In its letter, Apple has stated, California should revise how companies report self-driving system “disengagements.”
Currently the state requires companies to report the number of times the self-driving system was deactivated and control handed back to a human driver due to: 1) a situation related to traffic, 2) weather condition, 3) road condition, 4) system failure.
Apple has asked these rules to be further modified so that every time a human steps in to prevent even a minor traffic violation, a log should reflect that.
Apple has also asked safety regulators to revisit the language that defines autonomous vehicles so as to bring more clarity on vehicles which require permits even when a safety driver is present.
Earlier the exact wording for permits have become a sticking point between Uber and state officials with the California Department of Motor Vehicles ordered Uber to cease its self-driving tests in San Francisco.
Apple has stated San Francisco’s existing rules for development vehicles that are solely used in testing could potentially “restrict both the design and equipment that can be used in test vehicles.”
The letter has shot to importance since Apple, a late entrant in the self-driving car race, has managed to secure a permit to test autonomous vehicles in California.
Although the company has never openly acknowledged its entry into the crowded self-driving car market, it has recruited dozens of auto experts.