Apple Shares White Paper on Self-Driving Car Safety

Discussion in ' News Discussion' started by MacRumors, Feb 20, 2019.

  1. MacRumors macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    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.


    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 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
  2. DrJohnnyN macrumors 65816


    Jan 27, 2010
    Exciting news. Any idea what the car will cost? :)
  3. justiny Contributor


    Jul 28, 2008
    Fairfield, NJ
    Tim Cook: “Everyone stop looking at the foldable phone and check out our car project!!!”
  4. AngerDanger, Feb 20, 2019
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2019

    AngerDanger macrumors 68040


    Dec 9, 2008
    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.

  5. yaxomoxay macrumors 68030


    Mar 3, 2010
    Not sure about the final price, but I just paid the deposit.


    (Note: the above are not real limbs :) )
    --- Post Merged, Feb 20, 2019 ---
    What's the point in leaving almost half of the page blank??
  6. JetTester macrumors regular

    Feb 12, 2014
    Why do they say they use SUVs, and show a picture of a 4 door sedan?
  7. Frign macrumors regular

    Aug 19, 2011
    No offense man, but you pretty much post below almost every story and most of your 'witty' jokes seem rather forced.
  8. Freida macrumors 65816

    Oct 22, 2010
    Sorry Apple, but I think I'll get Tesla instead. I doubt you can compete with Tesla. If Steve was around then I would maybe think that you can pull it off but Tesla has Musk, you have no one. So, Tesla wins.
    Prove me wrong :-D
  9. jayducharme macrumors 68040


    Jun 22, 2006
    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.
  10. Porco macrumors 68030


    Mar 28, 2005
    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.

    It's a kind 'off-white paper'... ?
  11. 69Mustang macrumors 603


    Jan 7, 2014
    In between a rock and a hard place
    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.
  12. jerryk macrumors 601

    Nov 3, 2011
    SF Bay Area
    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.
  13. PSCConMP macrumors newbie

    Apr 26, 2015
    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.
  14. hagjohn macrumors 6502


    Aug 27, 2006
    Is it really realistic to have all those cameras on top of the car?
  15. cmaier macrumors G5

    Jul 25, 2007
    I doubt they will sell it. It’ll be subscription. A cross between iTunes and Uber.
  16. Krevnik macrumors 68040


    Sep 8, 2003
    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.
  17. mi7chy macrumors 603


    Oct 24, 2014
    Only thing I get from this document is that their autonomous car effort isn't completely dead yet.
  18. jerryk, Feb 20, 2019
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2019

    jerryk macrumors 601

    Nov 3, 2011
    SF Bay Area
    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.
  19. LiemTa macrumors 6502

    Jun 2, 2014
    Aren't white papers supposed to explain details? All this paper is is a list of hand-wavy ideas.
  20. jerryk macrumors 601

    Nov 3, 2011
    SF Bay Area

    Concepts maybe, but details like exactly how they do thing a things. No. That is patent-able information. And code, no way.
  21. OriginalMacRat macrumors 6502

    Mar 9, 2007
    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?
  22. cmaier macrumors G5

    Jul 25, 2007
    Because people prefer suvs?
    --- Post Merged, Feb 20, 2019 ---
    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.
  23. subjonas macrumors 68000

    Feb 10, 2014
    “No offense, but here’s an insult..” lol
  24. cmaier macrumors G5

    Jul 25, 2007
    Lass ihm in Ruhe. He’s the master of “dad humor.”

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