Apple reveals its self-driving technology called VoxelNet

Apple reveals its self-driving technology called VoxelNet

The paper, which was submitted to the online journal arXiv, is believed to be the first time Apple has a publicly disclosed paper regarding its autonomous-vehicle development.

Though Chief Executive Tim Cook has called self-driving cars "the mother of all AI projects", Apple has given few hints about the nature of its self-driving vehicle ambitious.

This specific picture describes how Apple researchers, including paper authors Yin Zhou and Oncel Tuzel, created something called VoxelNet that can extrapolate and infer objects from a collection of points captured by a LiDAR array.

"Most existing methods in LiDAR-based 3D detection rely on hand-crafted feature representations, for example, a bird's eye view projection". Apple has been low-key about its autonomous technology plans, but the research paper finally shows how invested the company is in self-driving cars. While the units supply depth information, their low resolution makes it hard to detect small, faraway objects without help from a normal camera linked to it in real time. They also wrote they were able to beat other approaches for detecting three-dimensional objects that use only LiDAR.

According to Apple's research team, this method "outperforms the state-of-the-art LiDAR based 3D detection methods by a large margin". VoxelNet managed to produce "highly encouraging results" through the use of light-based lidar alone, as opposed to linking lidar with another system, like a standard camera.

Enlarge Image Getting to peek behind Apple's curtain is a rare opportunity especially when it comes to Project Titan. Josh Edelson AFP Getty Images

While academics are used to sharing their findings with those in other organizations, Apple has been more secretive.

Earlier this year, Apple was granted a permit by Californian authorities to allow it to test self-driving cars. Yielding to that dynamic, Apple in July established the Apple Machine Learning Journal for its researchers.

The paper is one of the clearest looks yet we've had at Apple's work on self-driving technology.

The development helps resurrect hope that Apple could one day launch a self-driving vehicle of its own.

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