A theme emerged when Apple’s director of artificial intelligence research outlined results from several of the company’s recent AI projects on the sidelines of a major conference Friday. Each involved giving software capabilities needed for self-driving cars.
Ruslan Salakhutdinov addressed roughly 200 AI experts who had signed up for a free lunch and peek at how Apple uses machine learning, a technique for analyzing large stockpiles of data. He discussed projects using data from cameras and other sensors to spot cars and pedestrians on urban streets, navigate in unfamiliar spaces, and build detailed 3-D maps of cities.
The talk offered new insight into Apple’s secretive efforts around autonomous-vehicle technology. Apple received a permit from the California DMV to test self-driving vehicles in April, and CEO Tim Cook confirmed his interest in such technology in June.
The scale and scope of any car project at Apple remains unclear. Salakhutdinov didn’t say how the projects he discussed Friday fit into any wider effort in automated driving, and a company…