Apple,Tesla ask California to change self-driving car rule


Apple has asked the state of California to make changes in its proposed policies on self-driving cars, the latest sign the technology giant is pursuing driverless car technology.

In a letter made public Friday, Apple made a series of suggested changes to the policy that is under development and said it looks forward to working with California and others ‘so that rapid technology development may be realized while ensuring the safety of the traveling public.’

Waymo, the self-driving car unit of Google parent company Alphabet Inc, Ford Motor Co, Uber Technologies Inc, Toyota Motor Corp, Tesla Motors Inc and others also filed comments suggesting changes.

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Bloomberg journalist Alex Webb tweeted this gif of Apple’s self-driving test car yesterday evening. The images were captured by a passerby as the car emerged from a Silicon Valley research facility

California said on Tuesday it would review comments before deciding whether to make changes to the policy that aims to allow companies to test vehicles without traditional steering wheels and controls or human back-up drivers.

The state is at the center of a crowded race to develop self-driving vehicles and the proposed changes from companies help provide insight into their current efforts.

Apple said California should revise how companies report self-driving system ‘disengagements.’ 

California currently requires companies to report how many times the self-driving system was deactivated and control handed back to humans because of a system failure or a traffic, weather or road situation that required human intervention.

Apple said California’s rules for development vehicles used only in testing could ‘restrict both the design and equipment that can be used in test vehicles.’

Apple secured a permit earlier this month to test autonomous vehicles in California. Although it has never openly acknowledged it is looking into building a car, Apple has recruited dozens of auto experts. 

APPLE’S SELF DRIVING CAR SPOTTED IN SILICON VALLEY 

Apple officially secured a permit to test autonomous vehicles in California on April 14.

And, on April 28, one of Apple’s fleet of self-driving test vehicles has been captured emerging from a Silicon Valley research facility.

The kitted-out white Lexus RX450h SUV was snapped by a passerby.

The vehicle was dotted with an array of sensors and other equipment, according to the person who saw the vehicle and provided photos to Bloomberg.

The sensors used by the vehicle appeared to be bought off the shelf rather than custom-made by Apple, according to an industry expert who saw the photos.

Bloomberg journalist Alex Webb tweeted this gif of Apple's self-driving test car in April. The images were captured by a passerby as the car emerged from a Silicon Valley research facility

Bloomberg journalist Alex Webb tweeted this gif of Apple's self-driving test car in April. The images were captured by a passerby as the car emerged from a Silicon Valley research facility

Bloomberg journalist Alex Webb tweeted this gif of Apple’s self-driving test car in April. The images were captured by a passerby as the car emerged from a Silicon Valley research facility

They included Velodyne Lidar’s top-of-the-range 64-channel sensor for obstacle detection, at least two radar and a series of cameras.

Cameras can be seen at the back, top, front and sides of the car.

Rumours began sweeping the web last year that Apple was toying with the idea of developing its own self-driving car.

But Apple executives have been coy about their interest in the vehicles.

Chief Executive Tim Cook has suggested that Apple wants to move beyond integration of Apple smartphones into vehicle infotainment systems. 

The company declined to comment on Friday.

Tesla said California should not bar testing of autonomous vehicles that are 10,000 pounds (4,535 kg) or more. 

It said such a move could ‘stifle innovation’ and bar a company from testing a heavy autonomous vehicle that might be used to haul parts on private property rather than on public roads, pushing developers in this sector out of the state.

Elon Musk, chief executive of electric vehicle pioneer Tesla, announced plans last year for new electric vehicles, including a commercial truck called the Tesla Semi and a public transport bus. 

The company said earlier this month it plans to unveil a commercial truck in September.

Tesla also said California should not prohibit the sale of non-self-driving vehicles previously used for autonomous vehicle testing. 

Tesla said that under the proposal if it loads a vehicle with autonomous testing software and then replaces it with conventional production software it could be barred from selling the vehicle.

Uber said California should allow paying members of the public to ride in autonomous vehicles with drivers, saying ‘There is no reason to deny those riders an opportunity to travel in an autonomous test vehicle and provide honest feedback.’ 

Rival Lyft Inc asked the state to remove a requirement that it notify local authorities of autonomous vehicle testing.

Pictured is one of Apple's self-driving vehicles snapped at the Las Vegas Convention Centre in 2013. A monitor in the top right shows the image made by a 360 degree laser scanning device that creates a 3D image around the vehicle

Pictured is one of Apple's self-driving vehicles snapped at the Las Vegas Convention Centre in 2013. A monitor in the top right shows the image made by a 360 degree laser scanning device that creates a 3D image around the vehicle

Pictured is one of Apple’s self-driving vehicles snapped at the Las Vegas Convention Centre in 2013. A monitor in the top right shows the image made by a 360 degree laser scanning device that creates a 3D image around the vehicle

Waymo asked California to remove its liability proposal. 

On Tuesday, General Motors Co said the state’s proposed liability rules could make automakers liable regardless of fault for any crash. 

GM also said in its letter that automakers should be allowed to reuse autonomous vehicles and parts after testing or if it scraps the vehicle.

Volkswagen AG and Daimler AG submitted joint comments seeking changes to the extent of data required to be retained in crashes involving self-driving cars.

A number of automakers have said they plan to begin deploying self-driving vehicles, some in commercial fleets, by 2020-2021. 



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