News: Here's How Apple Is Training Their Self-Driving Car Engineers

Here's How Apple Is Training Their Self-Driving Car Engineers

Apple staff will be put through their paces now that the company's "Automated System" for driverless cars is in motion.

Earlier this month, it emerged that the notoriously secretive Apple received a permit from the California DMV, which costs a small fee but requires at least $5 million in insurance, to trial their automated vehicles on California's public roads.

However, company staffers must receive specialized training on how to control the autonomous vehicles before testing starts in California. Driverless obtained Apple's turned in Autonomous Vehicle Tester (AVT) Application for Manufacturer's Testing Permit form, which includes the training plan for Apple's Automated System.

Image via California DMV

The overall objective of their driverless training manual is regaining control of the autonomous car. Apple employees were told that the "development platform will be controlled electronically (e.g. joystick)" and that they must intervene, if necessary. There certainly won't be any slacking on Apple's watch (no pun intended), because their drivers' knowledge will be rigorously tested:

Each safety driver will be given 2 practice runs and 3 trials to pass each test.

— California DMV
Image via California DMV

So far, Apple has nominated six drivers, who cannot be named here, to test three Lexus RX450h SUVs in Cupertino. These candidates are mostly from engineering backgrounds, with an emphasis on software and robotics, as evidenced by their social profiles.

Image via California DMV

The single driver ("one person at a time") is instructed to be "hands on" dealing with the Logitech wheel and pedals. Overriding the autonomous system is a prerequisite under the Californian law, and from this training manual, it's clear that Apple is serious about becoming a competitor in the driverless arena. Indeed, there are seven trials their drivers must complete, which test the following:

  • high-speed driving
  • low-speed driving
  • tight U-turn
  • sudden steering input
  • sudden acceleration
  • sudden braking
  • conflicting turn and signal action
Image via California DMV

The American multinational corporation has some stiff competition to contend with, considering Google (Waymo), Uber, and Tesla are key contenders in the market. Once Apple has performed significant testing, we'll get a better idea of how they're doing on the roads because of the DMV's requirement to submit disengagement reports once a year, as well as any traffic accidents that happen within 10 days.

Driverless has reached out to Apple for comment. Evidently, detailed training manuals speak louder than words in this instance ...

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Cover image by Lenore M. Edman, Evil Mad Scientist/Flickr

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