Apple's so-called Project Titan had never been officially confirmed but Apple's interest in autonomous cars was largely treated as an open secret in the industry. Back in September, however, news broke that Apple had laid off dozens of employees who had been working on the self-driving car project. While it may have appeared at the time that Apple was giving up, a letter sent to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration suggests that's not the case.
that Apple's director of product integrity, Steve Kenner, submitted a five-page letter to the NHTSA towards the end of November. In it, he expressed Apple's interest in autonomous technology and encouraged the agency to avoid overly restricting self-driving car testing.
"[Apple] 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," the letter read. "Executed properly under NHTSA's guidance, automated vehicles have the potential to greatly enhance the human experience—to prevent millions of car crashes and thousands of fatalities each year and to give mobility to those without."
According to a statement that Apple spokesperson Tom Neumayr sent Automotive News, the company's sent the letter because it's invested so much 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," said Neumayr.
So while details are still scarce, it appears Apple plans to remain involved in the development of self-driving cars.