Apple’s driverless test car—a Lexus SUV—was caught in the wild by a MacRumors reader. There’s nothing earth-shattering about catching Apple’s autonomous vehicle in the wild—it’s been done before. But, I enjoy these reminders that Apple is going full steam ahead on developing driverless technology. Project Titan leaks have dramatically slowed since Bob Mansfield took it over, but testing obviously continues apace. MacRumor‘s Juli Clover has some additional details on this particular spotting.
The car market just took an interesting turn because Ford’s new CEO was running the company’s autonomous vehicle division. Bryan Chaffin and John Martellaro join Jeff Gamet to discuss how what that means for the car industry and the other companies with autonomous vehicle aspirations. They also share some thoughts on what Apple may have planned for its iOS 11 announcements at next month’s Worldwide Developer Conference.
Meet Ben Lieberman of New Castle, NY. He suffered a horrific tragedy in 2011 when his 19 year old son was killed by someone texting-while-driving. Powered by his personal loss, Mr. Lieberman is on a crusade to dramatically amp up the power of the police to search your smartphone without a warrant.
Bloomberg got pictures of a Lexus that reportedly belongs to Apple. An unnamed source gave the news outlet photos of the Lexus and claimed it emerged from an Apple facility known to be part of Project Titan. That’s Apple’s self-driving car project. The car is a Lexus RX450h SUV, and it has a sporty, “top-of-the-range 64-channel LIDAR, at least two radar and a series of cameras.” One must extend a measure of trust to the unnamed source, but it seems reasonable to imagine this is an Apple vehicle. If not, it’s going to be very like the kind of system Apple would be using to develop its self-driving technology. Apple veteran (legend) Bob Mansfield has refocused and pared down the Project Titan team. Its exclusive focus as of now is thought to be developing a self-driving system before moving on to an actual car. The long and the short of this story, however, is that people care what Apple is doing, even if it’s just testing technology using off-the-shelf components and a nice SUV. Bloomberg has more pics and a GIF of the car.
Alphabet’s driverless car company—Waymo—announced an “Early Rider” program for its driverless cars. The company has invited the general public to apply to be part of the program, saying “We’re searching for early riders in parts of the Phoenix metropolitan area, including Chandler, Tempe, Mesa and Gilbert. Come join us in making it safer and easier for everyone to get around!” The feel-good video below features a family that participated in small-scale tests, and Waymo said it would accept a “limited number” of additional participants in the expanded program. Alphabet CEO Larry Page has been an enthusiastic pursuer of driverless car technology since before Google, and Waymo’s goal is to launch a ride-hailing service based on its driverless platform. Apple, Didi, Uber, and a variety of other tech companies are all invested in a similar vision. Waymo’s testing in Arizona is a sharp reminder that a driverless future is marching inexorably closer. You can apply at Waymo’s site.
The education market is very price sensitive. Three players are in a pitched battle for the right-priced personal computer: Apple (iOS), Google (Chrome OS + Android), and Microsoft (Windows 10 Cloud). These OSes and their implementation on hardware, plus the right kind of marketing and staying power, could determine which company seizes the hearts and minds of schools and students.
When we think about flying cars, an idea that goes back more than 50 years, we often think of awkward technical concepts. Where does one stow the wings when driving? How does the designer efficient.y handle the propulsion for both roads and air? Airbus has come up with an ingenious solution, brilliant in fact. The autonomous drone comes and lifts the passenger module away. Digital Trends has the story and the demo video. It’s still just a concept, and a real product is 7 to 10 years away, according to Airbus. And then there’s the issue of FAA regulations even if it’s autonomous in all modes. Could be very cool. And no more sitting idle in rush hour traffic.
Apple reignited interest in its autonomous car project with a letter to Federal regulators arguing that “new entrants” into the autonomous vehicle industry should have just as many rights as the established automakers when it comes to testing prototypes on public roads.
We tend to think of robots and AI agents as potentially threatening. But when they’re specifically charged with protecting the human passengers in autonomous cars, there could be some serious shenanigans by aggressive drivers. Even abuse. What if one of those autonomous cars, in turn, does something unexpected? John looks at a mind-numbing scenario.
A major problem with Artificial Intelligence (AI) development is that a time might come when AI’s are able to learn and teach themselves faster than humans can manage them. Recently, President Obama suggested AI’s that aren’t properly constrained and regulated could be unleashed on unsuspecting citizens and severely disadvantage them. Figuring out when to step in will be the great 21st century challenge for governments.
The time since most of the Macs have been updated can now be described as geologic. Is that because Apple doesn’t care about the Macs? Or, more likely, could we be in for another major architectural change? Evidence is mounting that Apple will abandon Intel and take the Mac lineup to ARM. John looks at the evidence and makes the case.
Much has been written now about the moral guidance for autonomous cars and trucks. It’s a difficult problem that involves quantifying then instantiating into software the logic of life and death decisions. It would be nice for society to have more time to ponder, but the pace of technology leaves us precious little time for that. Machines are going to make moral decisions very soon. Shall we let them?
One of the most important issues with the autonomous driving cars of the future is the partitioning of liability. To that end, new legislation proposed in Germany would require a data recorder to log when the car is under autonomous or driver control to aid in the assignment of responsibility. But such a box has privacy considerations. And it might be hacked. Would such a data recorder deter buyers? Could Apple overcome all this?