In a letter to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Apple’s Director of Product Integrity Steve Kenner asked regulators not to impose too many restrictions on testing self-driving cars.
“Executed properly under NHTSA’s guidance, automated vehicles have the potential to greatly enhance the human experience,” he explained. “Such principles should not, however, inhibit companies from making consequential progress; there is no need to compromise safety or innovation.”
Is this letter further evidence of Apple’s intention to get into the self-driving car market? There’s nothing in the letter that suggests the company is investing in hardware—though in August, Apple filed a patent for some sort of vehicle. In the letter to the NHTSA, Kenner wrote that the company is “investing heavily in the study of machine learning and automation, and is excited about the potential of automated systems in many areas, including transportation.”
Company spokesman Tom Neumayr told Reuters that the company sent the letter because of its “heavy investment in machine learning and autonomous systems.”
“There are many potential applications for these technologies, including the future of transportation, so we want to work with NHTSA to help define the best practices for the industry,” Neumayrd said.
To get there, Apple doesn’t want government regulation to interfere. “In order to best protect the traveling public and keep up with the pace of innovation, NHTSA should expedite requests for exemption and interpretation and petitions for rulemaking,” Kenner wrote. Apple is now part of a growing group of automakers and tech companies that have voiced trepidation about the NHTSA’s proposed policies on driverless vehicles.
Kenner also advocated for “expanded exemption authority” so tech companies could innovate “the development of life-saving technology.” The world’s largest tech company also asked that “established manufacturers and new entrants should be treated equally” by the NHSTA, in part to “promote fair competition.”
“Instead of applying for exemptions, all companies should be given an opportunity to implement internal safety processes summarized in a Safety Assessment,” Kenner wrote. In other words, let the big boys on top handle it.
Government regulations are necessary, but also a pain in the ass. It comes as no surprise that the world’s largest tech company isn’t too keen on rules getting in the way of product development. After all, there’s always more money to be made, and in a ruthlessly capitalist society, we all want it as quick as possible.