Apple, Tesla ask California to change proposed self-driving car test policy

Fri Apr 28, 2017 8:18pm EDT
 
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By David Shepardson

(Reuters) - Apple Inc (AAPL.O: Quote) urged California to toughen up its proposed policy on testing self-driving cars, a move that would result in more public data that could help Apple catch up to rivals in the self-driving space by giving it a better window into their strengths and weaknesses.

In a letter made public on Friday, Apple suggested a series of changes to the draft policy that is under development and said it looks forward to working with California and others "so that rapid technology development may be realized while ensuring the safety of the traveling public."

Waymo, the self-driving car unit of Google parent company Alphabet Inc (GOOGL.O: Quote), Ford Motor Co (F.N: Quote), Uber Technologies Inc [UBER.UL], Toyota Motor Corp (7203.T: Quote), Tesla Motors Inc (TSLA.O: Quote) and others also filed comments suggesting changes.

California said on Tuesday it would review comments before deciding whether to make changes to the policy that aims to allow companies to test vehicles without traditional steering wheels and controls or human back-up drivers.

The state is at the forefront of a crowded race to develop self-driving vehicles and the proposed changes from automakers and technology companies help provide insight into current efforts.

In its letter, Apple said California should revise how companies report self-driving system "disengagements." California currently requires companies to report how many times the self-driving system was deactivated and control handed back to humans because of a system failure or a situation tied to traffic, weather or road conditions that required human intervention for safety reasons.

But Apple wants those rules to extend to humans stepping in to prevent even minor traffic violations. Apple contends the reporting rules as written leave too much wiggle room for car makers and "caused public confusion and misunderstanding," wrote Steve Kenner, Apple's director of product integrity.

Apple also asked regulators to revisit language around the definition of an autonomous vehicle to clarify that permits are required in advanced systems even when a safety driver is present.   Continued...

 
The Apple Inc. store is seen on the day of the new iPhone 7 smartphone launch in Los Angeles, California, U.S., September 16, 2016. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson  - RTSO2SH