On Apple, Automation, and the NHTSA

Andrew J. Hawkins, writing for The Verge:

In a letter submitted to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the tech giant states that it 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.”

The letter is Apple’s official comment on the federal government’s automated vehicle guidelines, released last September, which has already drawn feedback from many companies working on autonomous cars like Google and Ford. And speaking of Ford, Apple’s letter is signed by a man named Steven Kenner, the company’s head of product integrity who up until very recently was the global director of automotive safety at Ford.

While the letter is notable, a few points need to be made:

  • Contrary to the headline, this letter is in no way "hinting" that Apple is working on an autonomous vehicle. Given the state of flux Project Titan is reportedly in, there may not be an actual car.
  • Then again, there could very well be an "Apple Car" in 2020. I'd like one, but we don't know.
  • I don't get why "infuriatingly secretive" is in the lede. Are people expecting Apple PR to confirm Apple's plans? The company is never open about unannounced products—secrecy is their modus operandi—so to be furious about this is to not understand Apple at all.