Apple Inc. is inching closer to unveiling its much touted driver less cars. At least that what The Guardian suggests. Mark Harris reports that a few tech giant execs met with officials of California’s department of motor vehicles (DMV) to discuss plans for an “autonomous vehicle.”
A team led by senior legal counsel at Apple Mike Maletic had an hour-long meeting with the department’s self-driving car experts on August 17. DMV Deputy Director Bernard Soriano was present, so was Stephanie Dougherty, chief of strategic planning. Interestingly, both are co-sponsors of the California autonomous vehicle regulation project.
Something is Cooking Behind the Scenes
California’s DMV did not comment much on what transpired at the August meet. “The Apple meeting was to review [the] DMV’s autonomous vehicle regulations.”
The department is working on regulations that will eventually oversee the public deployment and operation of driver-less vehicles. Manufacturers must meet these rules to certify that their self-driving vehicles have undergone successful testing, meet safety requirements, and are ready to operate on public roads.
California’s DMV regulations are widely expected to influence national policy in the future.
“The regulations that get developed in California could be utilized by National Highway Traffic Safety Administration when it is in a position to develop federal regulations,” Soriano said at an industry gathering last week.
Apple Driver-less Cars ready to Hit the Road
The Guardian last month broke a story that said that Apple Inc. was looking to book a secure car testing site in California for its vehicle, code named Project Titan. That site must have been GoMentum Station. The abandoned military base near San Francisco has miles of empty streets to road test its driver less cars.
The news that Apple has already approached the DMV suggests that its self-driving vehicle is ready for public viewing. The latest Guardian report further disclosed that Apple has already appointed an engineering program manager for Project Titan. Typically, EPMs arrive at any Apple project only once the product under development is ready to leave the lab.
The main responsibility of the people at helm of California DMV’s self-driving vehicles project is to administer a vehicle testing program. As of date, 10 firms have been issued permits for about 80 vehicles, involving more than 300 test drivers.
If the report is to be believed and Apple Inc. did seek a testing permit for its Project Titan car, it will have to let go of its famed preference for secrecy. A manufacturer applying for a permit has to provide details about the make and model of cars they wish to test, in addition to its features and capabilities.
Apple Inc. declined to comment on The Guardian story.