And other automakers will be welcome to use it - for a price.
Apple is known for pushing technological boundaries. It's also known for keeping its future projects secret, so the fact this new report from Reuters even exists is pretty interesting. And conveniently enough, it involves Apple's mysterious self-driving car program. According to the report, a pair of Apple researchers published a paper proposing new software, called "VoxelNet" that helps computers detect three-dimensional objects. In regards to self-driving cars, this tech can be extremely helpful for vehicles to "see" pedestrians, cyclists, and other objects.
How it reportedly works is that it utilizes "a combination of normal two-dimensional camera and depth-sensing 'LiDAR' units to recognize the world around them." Apple claims the "VoxelNet" software returned "highly encouraging results" for getting a self-driving car's computer to recognize objects in front of it while using only LiDAR data. However, none of the testing was done in the real world. Instead, testing was conducted solely on a computer simulation. Apple may soon begin to apply this new software to its own self-driving cars. Earlier this year, it applied and received a permit in California to begin real world self-driving testing.
A few years ago, it sounded like Apple would be revealing its own self-driving car, but it smartly realized the car industry is not exactly the easiest business to be in. Even its chief rival Waymo has an agreement with an OEM, FCA, to outfit its autonomous driving technology to Chrysler Pacifica minivans. But this revelation about Apple's self-driving tech progress, combined with its new testing permit, sure sounds like it wants to develop and eventually sell its knowledge. Hey, it's probably a lot better than attempting car production. Just ask Tesla how it's going with the Model 3.