The round-a-bout that is the future ‘Apple Car’ seems to be spinning again, with the tech giant weighing in on a debate targeting future legislation for self-driven cars.
While it is uncertain whether Apple will build its own vehicle, with reports earlier this year suggesting that the project has been canned, the company has left the door open for future development of autonomous technology.
This could see Apple team up with an established carmaker, and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) is one such company known to be keen to form a partnership.
In a letter to America’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), Apple admitted it was engaging in development of its own autonomous tech while also calling for a reduction in ‘red tape’.
Apple, through Director of Product Steve Kenner, said it was “investing heavily in the study of machine learning and automation, and is excited about the potential of automated systems in many areas, including transportation.”
While Apple has never officially confirmed its interest in autonomous cars, or cars in general, this is the strongest indication yet that Apple tech may feature in future models.
To fast-track the development of autonomous cars, Apple called on the NHTSA to be lenient with mandatory safety testing during the development phase.
Apple said a carmaker may alter their design “multiple times within a four-month period”, adding that each tech tweak should not be weighed down by safety paperwork while the product was still under development.
“This rapid iteration should not require multiple Safety Assessments, which would be a significant administrative burden for both NHTSA and companies,” Apple said.
Apple continued, saying the rules governing the development of autonomous tech should reflect the fact that test vehicles will never be sold to the general public.
The company was also looking to protect its product secrets, claiming that constant applications to test autonomous vehicles may reveal the state of progress, leaving Apple vulnerable to its competitors.