The relationship between Apple and autonomy has been up and down. Initially, we thought the technology company was well on its way to developing a self-driving car right out of the gate. Then, it seemed as if the project stopped suddenly with no plans of picking it back up. We know now that Apple does indeed have something in the works as it recently received a permit to test self-driving cars in the state of California. In addition to that news, recent documents have unveiled some things about the prototype including the detail that the car will feature driving hardware like a steering wheel and floor pedals.
At first, t was unclear if the Apple Car would offer human control at all. The press believed that it would eventually feature Level 5 autonomy, or being able to drive in all situations without need for a driver, but this clears things up -- at least for the prototype. This differentiates Apple's tester from both Waymo's and Uber's as they were controlled solely by a remote operator. Apple tests will be conducted electronically with drivers in the car to take over if needed.
“The development platform is capable of sending electronic commands for steering, accelerating, and decelerating and may carry out portions of the dynamic driving task,” an Apple official wrote on a government form.
The in-car driver will have overriding steering control of the autonomous system. If the pilot feels that intervention is necessary than they can simply grab the Logitech wheel and control it in whatever way necessary; however, pushing the accelerator pedal won't disengage the self-driving program.
The report says that Apple drivers must pass seven courses before taking action on public roads. They will be allowed two practice runs before each evaluation, each of which can be taken three times.
Aside from that, Apple hasn't revealed much about their top-secret project. It'll be interesting to see if the company disrupts the auto industry like many plan them to, and with Apple's pioneering history, it very well could.