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Apple today released a white paper outlining its self-driving car testing procedures as required by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration [PDF via CNET].

The short seven-page document is scant on details about Apple's autonomous car project, but the company says that it is "excited about the potential of automated systems" in many areas, including transportation.

lexussuvselfdriving2-800x511.jpg

Apple believes autonomous driving systems have the potential to "enhance the human experience" through road safety improvements, increased mobility, and broad social benefits.

Each vehicle that's deployed (Apple uses Lexus SUVs outfitted with LiDAR equipment) is put through "rigorous verification testing" using simulation and closed-course proving grounds.

Apple explains how its autonomous vehicles work, which is basic self-driving vehicle functionality. The software senses what's around it, such as other vehicles, bicycles, or pedestrians using LiDAR, radar, and cameras before a planning component pulls that information together to predict what will happen next.

Using this information, Apple's system delivers commands for the steering, braking, and propulsion systems.

Apple analyzes every action that the system takes, especially scenarios and malfunctions where the safety driver is required to take over. Apple vehicles were in two accidents in 2018, though neither was the fault of the self-driving system and self-driving mode was only activated in one instance.

Every new autonomous driving feature implemented sees rigorous verification testing using test scenarios crafted from data gathered on public roads.
All proposed changes to our ADS software are first subjected to rigorous and comprehensive simulation testing that evaluates the software against predetermined criteria. After passing these simulation tests, the entire system then undergoes on-road testing at closed-course proving grounds. Software changes may be nominated for operation on public roads only after passing this array of extensive simulations and closed-course proving ground tests.

Software that passes to public road testing is incrementally deployed across the test vehicle fleet, with each stage monitored and analyzed. Additionally, changes deemed safety-critical undergo an extra phase of testing conducted by our most experienced drivers and operators.
All in all, Apple's white paper is rather dull and contains information shared by most companies that operate self-driving vehicles, but there are some interesting tidbits and insights into the company's focus on safety and secrecy.

All vehicles go through daily inspections and functionality checks before each outing, and Apple holds daily meetings with safety drivers to review software information and test routes.

Each vehicle is monitored by a safety driver and an operator, with Apple's safety drivers required to undergo rigorous training that includes a defensive driving course, classroom instruction, simulations, operational training, and supervised public road driving.

Drivers must keep both hands on the wheel at all times, work one shift per day, and are required to take frequent rest breaks to stay alert while driving.

Apple is still in the early stages of development on its autonomous driving software, and rumors have suggested the company could potentially release some kind of vehicle in 2023 to 2025.

Vehicles are equipped with a "persistent visual display" of the systems' mode, visible and audible signals when the system returns control to the safety driver, and "multiple, redundant, and fault-tolerant" mechanisms for taking control of the vehicle. Steering, braking, and acceleration commands have set limits to ensure actions can be safely anticipated and interrupted by the driver.

For more on Apple's car project, make sure to check out our Apple Car roundup.

Article Link: Apple Shares White Paper on Self-Driving Car Safety
 
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AngerDanger

macrumors 603
Dec 9, 2008
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The short seven-page document is scant on details about Apple's autonomous car project, but the company says that it is "excited about the potential of automated systems" in many areas, including transportation.
tl;dr: Apple isn't building a car. That gigantic apparatus atop the vehicles we've seen isn't a visual system; I've always thought it looked more… insectoid.

RGyxwyD.gif
 
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Frign

macrumors regular
Aug 19, 2011
115
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tl;dr: Apple isn't building a car. That gigantic apparatus atop the vehicles we've seen isn't a visual system; it's something entirely new unto itself. Maybe this has something to do with all of Apple's recent AI/machine learning hires…

RGyxwyD.gif

No offense man, but you pretty much post below almost every story and most of your 'witty' jokes seem rather forced.
 

jayducharme

macrumors 68040
Jun 22, 2006
3,996
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The thick of it
Apple is right in that self-driving vehicles will be a tremendous advance in transportation, greatly reducing accidents and increasing efficiency. The hurdle will be convincing people to give up control and let the cars do the work. There will be a lot of people resisting that change, and until ALL vehicles on the road are self-driving there will still be human-caused accidents.
 

Porco

macrumors 68040
Mar 28, 2005
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I think the future is certainly going to have a lot of self-driving/assisted vehicles, and that's a good thing, but I think it will be a long, long time before no manual driving is either required or desired, if ever.

I think the main issues are soon going to be more moral and philosophical than technological.

All in all, Apple's white paper is rather dull

It's a kind 'off-white paper'... ?
 

69Mustang

macrumors 604
Jan 7, 2014
7,862
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In between a rock and a hard place
Apple is right in that self-driving vehicles will be a tremendous advance in transportation, greatly reducing accidents and increasing efficiency. The hurdle will be convincing people to give up control and let the cars do the work. There will be a lot of people resisting that change, and until ALL vehicles on the road are self-driving there will still be human-caused accidents.
The bigger hurdle will be getting people willing to pay for infrastructure improvements. If we don't improve our roads and bridges, it doesn't matter how many people we convince autonomous driving is okay.
 

jerryk

Contributor
Nov 3, 2011
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SF Bay Area
Apple is right in that self-driving vehicles will be a tremendous advance in transportation, greatly reducing accidents and increasing efficiency. The hurdle will be convincing people to give up control and let the cars do the work. There will be a lot of people resisting that change, and until ALL vehicles on the road are self-driving there will still be human-caused accidents.

I would not take any convincing. I happily paid for and utilize my Tesla's Autopilot system. It is a great work reduction aid when traveling on the highways. Especially when the traffic is thick and the car can keep me in a lane, and automatically slow and pickup speed as the traffic gets density get lighter or heavier.

Full Self-Drive will take more work, but since I already use summons mode, auto-park, autopilot, etc. I don't have any doubt I will use Full Self-Drive when it is available.
 
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PSCConMP

macrumors member
Apr 26, 2015
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A lot of us have driver assists now, including lane departure warning and lane keep assist. The system in my car also shows when the car does not know where the lanes are. At the times I would like assistance the most (at night in the rain) the car has no idea where the lanes are either. There is a great need for new lane indicators on all roads.

I think Apple (and Google) are mis-stating their interest in self-driving cars. "Apple believes autonomous driving systems have the potential to "enhance the human experience" through road safety improvements, increased mobility, and broad social benefits" should read "autonomous driving systems will allow everyone to use their smart phones in all modes and at all times when in the car."

I see many drivers whom I wish would be replaced with an autonomous system. But it's these very unpredictable drivers that need to be successfully accommodated by the autonomous system. So while the Apple system didn't cause the accidents, the Apple system failed because it could not avoid the accident.
 
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Krevnik

macrumors 68040
Sep 8, 2003
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Is it really realistic to have all those cameras on top of the car?

During development, it's fine. Especially since Apple isn't building a car, but rather the system to be installed as part of the car. Making sure their components in the Engineering hardware are not as tightly integrated into the car helps them make changes to the hardware faster and test to see if the change actually improves things or not. I would raise eyebrows if this was the expected final form of the hardware, because it's both hilarious, and because engineering hardware tends to change as you figure out what works and what doesn't.

The real problem I see with this approach is that when it comes time to start integrating into the cars down the road, there's bound to be some teething issues when the sensors don't quite have the same POV as they did in the sensor pod on top of the car, and are instead integrated into the car's frame/body.
 
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mi7chy

macrumors G3
Oct 24, 2014
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Only thing I get from this document is that their autonomous car effort isn't completely dead yet.
 

jerryk

Contributor
Nov 3, 2011
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SF Bay Area
Is it really realistic to have all those cameras on top of the car?

When I have done work on self-driving model race cars they always started with more cameras than needed and pointing at different angles. That made it easy to get multiple series of frames. And when you feed them to a model you could see which positions contributed the best information to drive the vehicle. I suspect this is why Apple has so many cameras, and Lidar units on the test sled.

FWIW, all 2017+ Tesla has 8 or 9 cameras molded rather seamlessly into their bodies. No LIDAR though. Musk does not like LIDAR and says it's unnecessary, and I somewhat agree.
 
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LiemTa

macrumors 6502
Jun 2, 2014
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Aren't white papers supposed to explain details? All this paper is is a list of hand-wavy ideas.
 

OriginalMacRat

macrumors 6502a
Mar 9, 2007
591
862
Sorry Apple, but I think I'll get Tesla instead.

Tesla is chasing a shrinking market. Personally owned cars are in decline.

The current generation is growing up in a world of Lyft/Uber and is less interested in driving or owning cars. The future is on-demand services. Not personally owned vehicles.

Why do you think Ford has already decided to start dropping cars from their offerings?
 

cmaier

macrumors Core
Jul 25, 2007
23,044
28,089
California
Tesla is chasing a shrinking market. Personally owned cars are in decline.

The current generation is growing up in a world of Lyft/Uber and is less interested in driving or owning cars. The future is on-demand services. Not personally owned vehicles.

Why do you think Ford has already decided to start dropping cars from their offerings?
Because people prefer suvs?
[doublepost=1550717440][/doublepost]
I would not take any convincing. I happily paid for and utilize my Tesla's Autopilot system. It is a great work reduction aid when traveling on the highways. Especially when the traffic is thick and the car can keep me in a lane, and automatically slow and pickup speed as the traffic gets density get lighter or heavier.

Full Self-Drive will take more work, but since I already use summons mode, auto-park, autopilot, etc. I don't have any doubt I will use Full Self-Drive when it is available.
Tesla gave me a self driver as a loaner for a month a few months back. I feel like I almost died more than once. Nerve wracking that it wouldn’t even consistently stay in a lane. Particularly on highways where there were unusual deviations in the mediums.
 
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