We Got The Surest Sign Yet Apple Plans To Eat Elon Musk’s Lunch

Left: [STEPHEN LAM/Getty Images] Right: [ANGELO MERENDINO/AFP/Getty Images]

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Eric Lieberman Managing Editor
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Apple appears to be flooring the gas in the race to place self-driving cars on the market, sending a letter to U.S. regulators with thoughts on proposed guidelines.

“The company is investing heavily in the study of machine learning and automation, and is excited about the potential of automated systems in many areas, including transportation,” Steve Kenner, Apple’s director of product integrity, wrote to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

The Wall Street Journal first reported the letter Saturday.

Apple appears to be trying to catch up with other businesses developing autonomous vehicle technology like Uber, Google, Mercedes-Benz, the Chinese-backed Faraday Future, and most notably Tesla. There are a number of other firms developing the revolutionary technology as well. (RELATED: Uber, Anheuser-Busch Use Self-Driving Truck To Deliver 45,000 Cans Of ‘America’)

Elon Musk, the founder of Tesla, has been pushing hard to intensify its autonomous vehicle technology development. Not everything has worked out so far for the tech entrepreneur, especially after the NHTSA decided to investigate the death of a driver who was recklessly testing the autopilot capabilities of Model S in May.

Musk says that the fatal accident probably wouldn’t have happened with the latest updates to the technology. (RELATED: Germany Forbids Tesla From Using Misleading Term ‘Autopilot’)

Apple may now see a lane opening.

The tech company laid off dozens of employees involved in its self-driving car initiative known as “Project Titan” several months ago, which ostensibly signaled it was throwing in the proverbial white towel.

But not long after, Apple was engaging in discussions with McLaren, a British automotive manufacturer, about teaming up, according to The New York Times, potentially indicating that the purge of “Project Titan” was just to create a clean slate.

The tech conglomerate also reportedly poached engineers from Lit Motors, a start-up that developed an electric self-balancing motorcycle.

“Executed properly under NHTSA’s guidance, automated vehicles have the potential to greatly enhance the human experience—to prevent millions of car crashes and thousands of fatalities each year and to give mobility to those without,” Apple’s letter to NHTSA continues.

Kenner’s letter also spoke of “fostering innovation” by “improving regulatory flexibility,” which will encourage “the development of life-saving technology.”

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