Published: Wed, November 22, 2017
Sci-tech | By Carrie Guzman

Apple Scientists Submit Paper On Autonomous Vehicle Research

Apple Scientists Submit Paper On Autonomous Vehicle Research

Most self-driving auto projects use multiple types of cameras and sensors in addition to LiDAR to help the vehicles see around them, but Apple's team said their network has learned to accurately recognize objects of varying shapes and sizes, "leading to encouraging results in 3D detection of pedestrians and cyclists, based on only LiDAR".

The paper by Yin Zhou and Oncel Tuzel, submitted on November 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. In 2015, the news spread of the company may be working on a vehicle, but of course, Apple didn't say a word to deny or acknowledge the news.

The research is interesting because it could allow LiDAR to act much more effectively on its own in self-driving systems.

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Although Apple has only tested its new technology in computer simulations, it claims that VoxelNet "outperforms the state-of-the-art LiDAR-based-3-D detection methods by a large margin". According to the newly-released paper, computer simulating testing for VoxelNet produced "encouraging results" in spotting pedestrians and cyclists.

VoxelNet also outperformed state-of-the-art LiDAR-based 3D detection methods "by a large margin" in experiments on the KITTI auto detection benchmark, the researchers noted. The results come from the use of simulators, not Apple's on-road efforts.

The paper is one of the clearest looks yet we've had at Apple's work on self-driving technology. This move does not come as a surprise, Bryant Walker Smith, assistant professor of law at the University of SC and expert in the autonomous vehicles space, told TechRepublic amid earlier Apple self-driving auto rumors. "For better or worse, driving is a big part of many people's lives, so I'm not surprised that Apple is exploring the vehicle as another device or at least as another space".

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