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Apple Scientists Disclose Self-Driving Car Research (reuters.com) 34

Apple's first publicly disclosed paper on autonomous vehicles has been posted online by the company's computer scientists. The research describes a new software approach called "VoxelNet" that helps computers detect three-dimensional objects like cyclists and pedestrians while using fewer sensors. Reuters reports: The paper by Yin Zhou and Oncel Tuzel, submitted on Nov. 17 to independent online journal arXiv, is significant because Apple's famed corporate secrecy around future products has been seen as a drawback among artificial intelligence and machine learning researchers. The scientists proposed a new software approach called "VoxelNet" for helping computers detect three-dimensional objects.

Self-driving cars often use a combination of normal two-dimensional cameras and depth-sensing "LiDAR" units to recognize the world around them. While the units supply depth information, their low resolution makes it hard to detect small, faraway objects without help from a normal camera linked to it in real time. But with new software, the Apple researchers said they were able to get "highly encouraging results" in spotting pedestrians and cyclists with just LiDAR data. They also wrote they were able to beat other approaches for detecting three-dimensional objects that use only LiDAR. The experiments were computer simulations and did not involve road tests.

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Apple Scientists Disclose Self-Driving Car Research

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  • by 93 Escort Wagon ( 326346 ) on Wednesday November 22, 2017 @06:10PM (#55606675)

    Please avoid that truck.

    "I'm sorry, but I don't understand 'a droid aruck.'"

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      Reading their release it's no wonder they gave up on the technology. They are so far behind Google they had no chance of ever catching up. I guess Apple decided that the reality distortion field wasn't strong enough to sell the tech if it was late to the game.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    That's interesting.. Apple is doing a computer simulation of a self-driving car while Google is testing self driving cars without safety drivers in Arizona.

    • this is typical mature corporate conglomerate behavior; poking their fingers into non core businesses, they cannot really take full time interest in, and thus truly develop and master, choking those smaller startups and specialists who really know and love this or that business.

      long history of this sort of behavior(with case studies aplenty at business schools). almost always ends badly for conglomerate(especially badly for its non core side business) when they are no longer able to waste money without cons

    • by mjwx ( 966435 )

      That's interesting.. Apple is doing a computer simulation of a self-driving car while Google is testing self driving cars without safety drivers in Arizona.

      That's Apple's MO. Release a product years after everyone else, make it less functional than the competition and profit...

      There's no ??? because you're going to buy it no matter how bad it is because it's got an Apple logo. These things could crash (litterally as in into a tree) on a regular basis and fanboys would still buy them.

  • Tesla decided to forego the holy trinity of camera/radar/lidar for their system---in contrast with all of the established automakers.

    Maybe they do have better engineers. At least in this particular niche.

    • by rtb61 ( 674572 )

      Radar bad, it's called ionising radiation. Having a million ionising radiation units floating around a city, not that good an idea, unless you want a population that glows in the dark, well not really but cancers numbers will blow out quite extraordinarily. Clearly infrared lidar makes the most sense, you won't even notice that low level of warmth.

      The big problem, one that has been identified many times before, the more complex, the more often it breaks down. You will have a future where main roads are ro

      • Radar bad, it's called ionising radiation.

        Sorry chap, but I think you've got it wrong on that one [wikipedia.org].

        Really need 3D vision

        Yes, this is exactly what all these systems are doing. Taking data from various sources to build an accurate 3D abstraction of the world, so that the job of programming how to drive around can be dealt with in a predictable manner.

        We've all played racing games, so we know how good computers can be at driving when they know the circuit down to the smallest detail. We just need to get the real world represented in the same kind of way. If that means lida

      • by afxgrin ( 208686 )

        Radar isn't ionizing radiation, it'll also cut through precipitation a lot better than IR. There's no 'optics' per say with radar, just receiving antennae so getting the system dirty isn't as easy.

        What do you think wifi is? Cellular communications?

        Here's a chart to help you out:

        http://images.tutorvista.com/c... [tutorvista.com]

      • Microwave transmitters do not emit ionizing radiation. Early Klystron based generators did produce X-Rays, but they were largely superseded by designs which did not produce X-Rays as this is a loss of useful output power/transmission inefficiency.

        Regardless, in terms of danger; 25mW/cm^2 is where you start feeling heat on your skin after several minutes. Pain is at 1W/cm^2. Burning (ie skin temperature going above 42C) happens at 2.5W/cm^2 but that usually takes 5 minutes or more of exposure.

        Radar system

  • Sounds like standard MO for Apple, get into the market that already has been tested, defined, and has promise of revenue. Hopefully they will do what we used are to - simplify and bring it to the people.
    • by MouseR ( 3264 )

      As an evolution to CarPlay it makes sense.

      And since Project Titan was apparently pulled, maybe Apple is waiting for that other company to be ripe for the picking, since it can't seem to get a hold of it's spending.

  • I wonder how a self driving car could fit in Apple line of products.
    • What they need to invent is a self-buying robot that can wait in line for you at the Apple store whenever a new product comes out.

    • In the usual Apple way.

      It will cost even more than a Tesla and be even more stylish and minimalist (probably looking like a giant round bubble of brushed aluminium and gorilla glass).
      But apple fan will flock to it and buy it anyway because the iCar has an apple logo on it.

      All the while the press will praise Apple for revolutionizing the transport industry completely, by being the inventors of self-driving pilotless cars. And of electric drive cars. And of cars all together.

      (Though they would still manage to

  • ...near unidimensional targets^H^H^H^H^H^H objects ? What does Apple car do when this [youtube.com] crosses a road ?

The only possible interpretation of any research whatever in the `social sciences' is: some do, some don't. -- Ernest Rutherford