Tech giant Apple has been posting tips online as to how companies can better improve the cyclist and pedestrian spotting technology that’s integrated into self-driving vehicles. The paper was written by Yin Zhou and Oncel Tuzel and is the first publicly disclosed paper the company’s produced in regards to autonomous vehicles.
It’s quite a significant move for Apple as the company’s notorious for keeping secrets when it comes to future products; a move that’s always been seen as a major drawback for those involved in the artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) worlds. In the paper, the experts propose a new way to improve the safety of cyclists and pedestrians when it comes to autonomous cars and it comes in the form of a new software approach called “VoxelNet”.
Earlier this year Apple established the Apple Machine Learning Journal. This allowed its researchers to highlight their AI research efforts in a similar fashion to how Alphabet, Microsoft, and Facebook currently do. Very rarely will any of Apple’s work appear outside the journal and as of yet hasn’t published any research in connection with self-driving vehicles.
In order for self-driving vehicles to operate safely, they need to use both Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) units as well as standard two dimensional cameras. While LiDAR supplies the depth information, the regular camera helps to link the object to real time. However, with the new software that Apple’s proposing, only LiDAR was needed to detect pedestrians and cyclists, and showed promising results all-around.
So far the tests have only been completed through computer simulations and as of yet no real road tests have been done. But, that’s not to say they won’t in the near future. According to the company’s Chief Executive, Tim Cook, self driving cars are “the mother of all AI projects.”
What Apple will release in terms of AI remains to be seen, but it certainly is making itself known in this field. This time last year the company announce it was excited about AI and self-driving technology and asked regulators to not impose any restrictions on testing the technology. Earlier this year Apple put forward its self-driving car testing plan to regulators in California.