At the same time, Apple has been opening up a bit more about its machine learning efforts, publishing papers to its own blog highlighting its research, and now also sharing with the broader research community.
With the new software, engineers said they produced "highly encouraging results" in terms of identifying pedestrians and cyclists using only LiDAR data, which gathers information about surroundings using a pulsed laser, not cameras. In order to figure out exactly what the object is, vehicles must therefore also rely on other sensors and cameras.
Tests were only conducted on a computer simulation, but Apple said it was able to outperform "state-of-the-art LIDAR-based 3D detection methods by a large margin". We know Apple's working on this because it's had to admit as much in order to secure a self-driving test permit from the California Department of Motor Vehicles, and because its test auto has been spotted in and around time.
Apple spent most of 2016 coming to grips with the reality that it couldn't build a auto, but this year, the tech conglomerate showed it still has ambitions to develop autonomous driving technology. And just less than a year ago, Apple encouraged federal regulators not to restrict testing of self-driving cars, noting it was excited about the emerging technology.