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Apple computer scientists working on autonomous vehicle technology have posted a research paper online describing how self-driving cars can spot cyclists and pedestrians using fewer sensors (via Reuters).

The paper by Yin Zhou and Oncel Tuzel was submitted to the moderated scientific pre-print repository arXiv on November 17, in what appears to be Apple's first publicly disclosed research on autonomous vehicle technology.

appleautonomousdrivingtestlexus.jpg

The paper is titled "End-to-End Learning for Point Cloud Based 3D Object Detection", and describes how new software developed by Apple scientists improves the ability of LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) systems to recognize objects including pedestrians and cyclists from a distance.

Self-driving cars typically use a combination of standard cameras and depth-sensing LiDAR units to receive information about the world around them.

Apple's research team said they were able to get "highly encouraging results" using LiDAR data alone to spot cyclists and pedestrians, and wrote that they were also able to beat other approaches for detecting 3D objects that rely solely on LiDAR tech. The experiments were limited to computer simulations and did not advance to road tests.

Apple famously has a secretive research policy and has kept its work under wraps for many years, but over the last 12 months, the company has shared some of its research advancements with other researchers and the wider public, particularly in the area of machine learning.

In December 2016, Apple said that it would start allowing its AI and machine learning researchers to publish and share their work in papers, with the first paper appearing just a few weeks following the announcement.

Additionally, in July of this year, Apple researchers initiated the "Apple Machine Learning Journal", a blog detailing their work on machine learning, AI, and other related topics.

This new policy of openness could help Apple retain employees who do not want to keep their progress a secret, but the latest research into autonomous vehicle technology also lets regulators see that the company is making progress in this area. Last December, Apple told federal regulators it was excited about the technology and asked them not to restrict testing. In April, the company also filed a self-driving car testing plan with California regulators.

Apple CEO Tim Cook has called autonomy "the mother of all AI projects". During an August 2017 earnings call, Cook re-emphasized Apple's deep interest in the technology, and even hinted Apple's work on autonomy could be used for more than vehicles.

Apple has presumably been working on an autonomous driving system since 2014, when rumors of its efforts to create an electric vehicle first surfaced. Apple has now moved away from creating a full vehicle and is said to be focusing on self-driving technology instead.

Article Link: Apple Shares Research into Self-Driving Car Software That Improves Obstacle Detection
 

Taipan

macrumors 6502
Jun 23, 2003
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Does „cloud based“ mean that it will recognize obstacles as reliably as Siri understands my requests and not work at all when there‘s no reception?
 
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macs4nw

macrumors 601
This is good for everyone. Apple sharing this research instead of keeping it proprietary shows they are more interested in getting to a sustainable future faster than retaining whatever competitive business advantage this would give them.
While I agree, it should be noted that this openness also couldn't hurt with getting earlier regulators' testing approvals, as Apple goes through these various phases.
 
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BvizioN

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Mar 16, 2012
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Why are they making these? Who has ever asked for self driving cars?

We wanted FLYING cars, I think they got this mixed up somewhere.

One step at a time.
And who asked for self driving cars? Since humans are quite good at causing terrible accidents on the road that costs the life of millions each year, self driving car seems the logical solution. Who wouldn't want to minimise the road accidents?
 
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jbizzybeetle

macrumors 6502a
Mar 9, 2015
501
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One step at a time.
And who asked for self driving cars? Since humans are quite good at causing terrible accidents on the road that costs the life of millions each year, self driving car seems the logical solution. Who wouldn't want to minimise the road accidents?

check your stats: sad but not millions—fewer than 40,000 deaths per year, “only” 3.6 million 1899-2013, according to National Traffic Safety Transportation Bd.

that said—I am not yet crazy about self-driving cars either. Daughter and son-in-law were backseat passengers in vehicle with self-driving engaged that “failed to see” highway exit barrier and would have crashed but for host’s screaming shotgun-riding wife.
 
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CTHarrryH

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Jul 4, 2012
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I've never seen a survey that says who wants self driving cars and who doesn't. I don't know of anyone who does - sure maybe if you are taking a long road trip and want to relax for several hours of highway but for going to grocery store??
Also I've seen nothing about how much more these cars would cost and how much extra per month for all the network and other services required. Would you pay 25% more for the same car and several hundreds a month for all the services needed? I wouldn't.
 
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joiwomcow

macrumors regular
Apr 19, 2017
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arXiv is not an "online independent journal", it's a preprint service. This means anybody can post, and the articles are not peer reviewed. It's usually used to quickly publicise work that has been submitted to a journal or conference.
The upshot being: arXiv posts many interesting things, but they're not always correct.
 
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MH01

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Feb 11, 2008
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This is good for everyone. Apple sharing this research instead of keeping it proprietary shows they are more interested in getting to a sustainable future faster than retaining whatever competitive business advantage this would give them.

It can't be proprietary, safety laws related to motor vehicles dictate Apple needs to share thier data and how it suppose to work . It's one reason apple is struggling to develop a product that requires transparency for public safety.
[doublepost=1511354770][/doublepost]
One step at a time.
And who asked for self driving cars? Since humans are quite good at causing terrible accidents on the road that costs the life of millions each year, self driving car seems the logical solution. Who wouldn't want to minimise the road accidents?

Careful what you ask for..... quite a few plan crashes were attributed to automation . Sadly human can adapt and react to situations, when a computer encounters an edge case the consequences can be tragic be it a plane or car.
 
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timmyh

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Mar 18, 2016
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arXiv is not an "online independent journal", it's a preprint service. This means anybody can post, and the articles are not peer reviewed. It's usually used to quickly publicise work that has been submitted to a journal or conference.
The upshot being: arXiv posts many interesting things, but they're not always correct.

Thanks, my mistake. I've changed the description.
 
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upnorth85

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Oct 2, 2011
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MN, USA
Apple failed to bring out self driving car and it seems now it is officially abandoning the project but will most likely work with automotive partners. It is unfortunate that Lexus, Acura etc., continue to stone wall Apple and Google for carplay and Android Auto. Both Lexus and Acura have some junky navigation systems. I so wish I could have Google map as an option in my Acura infotainment system,
 
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Bacillus

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Jun 25, 2009
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I am not in the automotive business, but as a car manufacturer I would hardly get anxious (or excited) about Apple and its selfdriving whereabouts.
The metadescription of this publication doesn't fit the picture (huge camera's) - most car companies have more compact solutions than Apple that have proven themselves on the road by now.
My 7 year old Volvo (adapt. cruise ctrl) can discern a pedestrian from a bike or car.
I really do not understand what Apple wants in this arena. No company wants to partner with them. They don't seem to get anywhere themselves (until they buy Tesla...?)
I for one would avoid Apple software - in its current state - in any mission critical system.
 
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ISanych

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Aug 4, 2013
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BvizioN

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Mar 16, 2012
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check your stats: sad but not millions—fewer than 40,000 deaths per year, “only” 3.6 million 1899-2013, according to National Traffic Safety Transportation Bd.

that said—I am not yet crazy about self-driving cars either. Daughter and son-in-law were backseat passengers in vehicle with self-driving engaged that “failed to see” highway exit barrier and would have crashed but for host’s screaming shotgun-riding wife.

You most be one of them that thinks US is the entire world. Here
And I was talking about how it effects the millions of others life, the injured.
And of course, a single or maybe few accidents on a beta testing self driving cars of the future is a clear indication of capabilities if this technology. Nothing compare with the human madness on the road.
[doublepost=1511358366][/doublepost]
Careful what you ask for..... quite a few plan crashes were attributed to automation . Sadly human can adapt and react to situations, when a computer encounters an edge case the consequences can be tragic be it a plane or car.

It is a beta testing technology that can be improved beyond what we even think it is possible today.
And thank you, but I don't trust humans on the road. I have seen quite enough. Can't wait to see the day driving on the road becomes illegal (if in my lifetime)
 
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Piggie

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Feb 23, 2010
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I agree about AI for cars being totally open, and any moral rules need to be the same for everyone.
We don't want to end up with say a child being killed in an Apple Car, and then Ford saying in a Ford car, given the same scenario their software AI would have done something different and the child would still be alive.

That would be the last path we wish to head down. We all want to know any brand of car, will be running to the same rules and make the same choices when presented with any scenario.
 
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jerryk

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Nov 3, 2011
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I agree about AI for cars being totally open, and any moral rules need to be the same for everyone.
We don't want to end up with say a child being killed in an Apple Car, and then Ford saying in a Ford car, given the same scenario their software AI would have done something different and the child would still be alive.

That would be the last path we wish to head down. We all want to know any brand of car, will be running to the same rules and make the same choices when presented with any scenario.

I work with AI and Machine Learning every day. The goal is to avoid the crash with any object regardless of what the object is. Because if you hit a vehicle versus a person you may actually cause more deaths and injuries because the vehicle you hit plows into a crowd. Unintended consequences are very difficult to predict.
 
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npmacuser5

macrumors 65816
Apr 10, 2015
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Why are they making these? Who has ever asked for self driving cars?

We wanted FLYING cars, I think they got this mixed up somewhere.

Assisted and self driving cars, a huge advantage to the driving impaired. Whether that be age, or other factors. A big number of folks. An even larger benefit, managing traffic and associated problems (crashes). Drivers in general are terrible at, driving. I doubt one in ten could pass a certified safe driving test. Then add the value of having assisted and self driving commercial vehicles, a very large number of businesses interested. Apple and others seeing the potential for this technology. A good thing Apple and others do not listen to us.:D
 
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iamshine

macrumors newbie
Sep 5, 2012
11
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check your stats: sad but not millions—fewer than 40,000 deaths per year, “only” 3.6 million 1899-2013, according to National Traffic Safety Transportation Bd.

that said—I am not yet crazy about self-driving cars either. Daughter and son-in-law were backseat passengers in vehicle with self-driving engaged that “failed to see” highway exit barrier and would have crashed but for host’s screaming shotgun-riding wife.
I've never seen a survey that says who wants self driving cars and who doesn't. I don't know of anyone who does - sure maybe if you are taking a long road trip and want to relax for several hours of highway but for going to grocery store??
Also I've seen nothing about how much more these cars would cost and how much extra per month for all the network and other services required. Would you pay 25% more for the same car and several hundreds a month for all the services needed? I wouldn't.
”Relax” is the last thing I can be if I am sitting in a self driving vehicle.
 
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BlargKing

macrumors 6502
Apr 17, 2014
469
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NewBrunswick, Canada
I honestly never want a self driving car. I have little faith in computers being able to reliably do something so dynamic. I hope theres never any forced self-driving cars only laws put into place.
 
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cmwade77

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Nov 18, 2008
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Honestly, AI is a dangerous road to go down, read Darknet by Matthew Mater for an extreme example of what can go wrong.

We keep asking "Can we make self driving cars?" and we fail to ask "Should we make self driving cars?"
 
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kdarling

macrumors P6
I've never seen a survey that says who wants self driving cars and who doesn't. I don't know of anyone who does - sure maybe if you are taking a long road trip and want to relax for several hours of highway but for going to grocery store??

My wife who can no longer drive, wants one. My 95 year old mother who can no longer drive, wants one.

I'd bet a lot of blind people, and others who cannot drive for some reason, would want one.

Not to mention that I'd bet millions of New Yorkers would love to not to deal with real taxi drivers :)
 
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