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Technology giant Apple has submitted a request to the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) asking that less information about autonomous vehicle testing being included in publicly-accessible reports – according to online blog MacRumours.

Currently, it’s a requirement for companies like Apple to publicly share details of its driverless vehicle testing processes, which goes against the company’s usual process of keeping software and hardware developments a secret prior to release.

In a letter from the Cupertino-based firm, Apple says it is “investing heavily in the study of machine learning and automation”, adding that the company is “excited” about the potential of autonomous systems in numerous fields including transport.

The document asks that the DMV amends or clarifies its positions in the areas of disengagement reporting, definitions and testing without safety drivers, citing concern surrounding inconsistent disengagement reporting can lead to media coverage that causes confusion and misunderstanding amongst the public.

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In its letter to the DMV, Apple says the following:

“Apple suggests the following changes to the disengagement reporting requirements to achieve an objective set of data to accurately and clearly inform the public about the safety of the automated vehicles being tested

A disengagement should be defined as an unexpected event or failure that requires the safety driver to take control of the vehicle in order to prevent a crash or traffic violation.

A disengagement should not be reported for the following:
– Operational constraints where either the safety driver has been trained to disengage the system, or when the system detects the constraint and disengages automatically. For example, a system that requires the safety driver to navigate through a construction zone.
–  System errors or failures. For example, a software bug or sensor dropout that does not affect the safe operation of the system.
– Discretionary decisions made by the safety driver. For example, when the safety driver perceives a vehicle is approaching too quickly and opts to disengage the system.
– Any tests that are planned to result in a disengagement.
– The end of a test or experiment.

Additionally, the proposed requirement in §227.50(b)(3)(B)(vi) to describe the type of incident that would have happened without the disengagement should be removed. It requires speculation about future events that have not occurred”

Last month Apple was granted a permit for testing autonomous vehicles on public roads, and has already deployed three Lexus RX SUVs – similar vehicles to those used by arch-rival Google (below) – equipped with an array of sensors and cameras.

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MacRumours says the vehicles have been spied multiple times on the roads of Cupertino in recent weeks.

The fruit-branded tech giant is a little behind its rivals in terms its progress with autonomous vehicle testing, with Google announcing last month it had started public testing of its autonomous Waymo fleet, while Swedish manufacturer Volvo has already detailed plans to run public trials of driverless vehicles in Sweden and London.

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