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Tesla, Apple seeks change in proposed self-driving car test policy

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In a move that would result in more public data that could help Apple catch up to rivals in the self-driving space, Cupertino tech giant, Apple, urged California to toughen up its proposed policy on testing self-driving cars.

In a letter made public, 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 realised while ensuring the safety of the travelling public.”

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Moreover, other automobile major including Waymo, the self-driving car unit of Google parent company Alphabet Inc, Ford Motor Co, Uber Technologies Inc, Toyota Motor Corp, Tesla Motors Inc and others also filed comments suggesting changes.

In reply, California said 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 backup 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.

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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.

The exact wording around when permits are needed became a sticking point between Uber and state officials last year when the California Department of Motor Vehicles ordered Uber to cease its self-driving tests in San Francisco.

Apple also said the state’s rules for development vehicles used only in testing could “restrict both the design and equipment that can be used in test vehicles.”

 

 

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