Apple Inc. has been conducting researches over the years and it has now surfaced that the company’s computer scientists have found ways to ensure that self-driving cars can better spot cyclists and pedestrians while using fewer sensors. This information was posted online, with the company making public its first research paper on autonomous vehicles
The research was conducted by Yin Zhou and Oncel Tuzel with the duo submitting the paper on Nov. 17 to independent online journal arXiv. This is a very important achievement as so far the secrecy surrounding Apple’s research of autonomous cars had been viewed as a setback among artificial intelligence and machine learning researchers.
Apple’s scientists came up with a new software approach they termed “VoxelNet”. This will help computers easily detect 3D objects.
When contacted about the latest development, Apple declined to make a comment on the issue.
For a long time now, academics are used to sharing their work with peers from other organizations through their papers. Using that trend, the scientists at Apple back in July decided to open the Apple Machine Learning Journal for its researchers. This implies that their work only comes out to the public on rare occasion, as their work is published in the company’s journal only.
Autonomous cars are known to use a combination of 2D cameras and depth-sensing “LiDAR” units in recognizing their surroundings. Even though those units supply in-depth information, the resolution which is low makes it very hard to notice small, faraway objects. It can only do that with the aid of a normal camera that is linked to the unit in real time.
This software by Apple though will change everything. Researchers believe that the results gotten so far has been highly encouraging as it has spotted pedestrians and cyclists with just LiDAR data. They further added that they were able to overcome other approaches for detecting 3D objects that use only LiDAR. So far, the tests conducted were limited to computer simulations and did not involve road tests.
CEO Tim Cook has once described the autonomous cars as “the mother of all AI projects”, the company has given hints as to how it views the self-driving car industry and how they intend to partake in it.
Back in December last year, the company notified federal regulators about its excitement with the technology and requested not to be restricted when testing it. They followed that up by filing a self-driving car testing plan with California regulators back in April.