Apple has developed an "Automated System" for self-driving cars, and the company is planning to put staffers through a training program to operate the vehicles ahead of testing on California roads.
Apple documents obtained by Business Insider through a public-records request provided the first look at the technology that the company is building for self-driving cars.
Apple obtained permits to test self-driving cars on California roads earlier this month. But the company has kept details of its car effort under wraps and has never really discussed any of its technology or business plans for self-driving cars.
The documents obtained by Business Insider include a walk-through of the "Development Platform Specific Training" as well as details about an autonomous-vehicle system called the "Apple Automated System."
"The development platform uses hardware and software to monitor surrounding objects and events," an Apple official wrote on a government form.
This technology is "capable of sending electronic commands for steering, accelerating, and decelerating and may carry out portions of the dynamic driving task," the official continued.
Among the key training issues are instructions on how to regain manual control of an autonomous car if necessary.
According to the training packet, the car that Apple's staffers are using to test the self-driving technology is outfitted with consumer video game gear such as a Logitech steering wheel and pedals to actuate drive by wire.
Apparently, during safety testing the "Autonomous System," or development platform, is controlled electronically, for example, by a joystick (or, potentially by autonomous software). Apple's drivers need to be ready to take manual control of the vehicle.
Apple declined to comment.
The documents shed light on Apple's effort to develop autonomous-driving technology and represent the latest sign of the tech giant's seriousness about self-driving cars, a market analysts believe could be worth tens of billions of dollars and will pit Apple against Google, Uber, and Tesla, among others.
Apple is required under California law to train its drivers in how to override an automated system before they go on public roads.
According to the document, Apple drivers must pass seven tests before they are fully trained. Each safety driver has two practice runs and three trials to pass each test on what appears to be a private course.
Here are the tests:
Pressing the brake pedal or grabbing the steering wheel in Apple's test vehicles will disengage the electronic-driving mode, but drivers can accelerate without overriding the "drive by wire" mode.
Apple applied for a permit for six drivers to drive three Lexus RX450h SUVs. Apple's drivers, named in the application, are mostly Ph.D.s specializing in machine learning, some of whom previously worked for companies like Bosch and Tesla, according to their LinkedIn profiles.
Apple said its vehicles would be able to capture and store "relevant data before a collision occurs" in its application. Apple's point of contact in its application is Steve Kenner, who previously sent a letter to NHTSA.
More From Business Insider