Apple senior legal counsel Mike Maletic held an hour-long meeting with the California Department of Motor Vehicles last month to review „autonomous vehicle regulations,“ according to internal documents obtained by The Guardian. The revelation comes amid widespread rumors that Apple has hired hundreds of employees to develop an electric vehicle over the past several months.
California DMV headquarters in Sacramento
Maletic reportedly met with a trio of DMV executives familiar with self-driving cars, including deputy director Bernard Soriano and chief of strategic planning Stephanie Dougherty, who are co-sponsors of California’s autonomous vehicle regulation project. Brian Soublet, the department’s deputy director and chief counsel, was also in the meeting, according to the report.
California’s DMV is developing regulations for the eventual deployment and public operation of autonomous vehicles. These rules will establish requirements that manufacturers must meet to certify that their driverless vehicles have been successfully tested, meet safety criteria, and are ready for consumers to operate on public roads.
Apple would be required to obtain an Autonomous Vehicle Testing Permit from the California DMV to test autonomous vehicles on public roads, which Volkswagen, Mercedes-Benz, Google, Tesla Motors, Nissan, BMW, Honda and others have already done. Given the Cupertino-based company’s culture of secrecy, however, that is an unlikely scenario.
If Apple does seek a testing permit for its Project Titan self-driving car, it will have to sacrifice much of its legendary preference for secrecy. Manufacturers applying for a permit have to detail the make, model and vehicle identification number (VIN) of cars they want to test, share details of autonomous features and capabilities, and identify test drivers by name.
If rumors about Apple testing an electric vehicle are true, it is more likely that the iPhone maker will use a private testing facility such as GoMentum Station, a 2,100-acre former naval base in the San Francisco Bay Area run by the Contra Costa Transportation Authority. Apple could also use its own property to test vehicles with complete privacy, something it may already be doing.
Apple’s rumored „Project Titan“ electric vehicle research and development could be based at a top-secret office and lab complex in Sunnyvale codenamed SG05, the report corroborates. Bloomberg reported in February that Apple aims to begin electric car production as early as 2020, but the company’s roadmap is not entirely clear due to the highly secretive nature of the project.
Apple has boosted pay for its contracted shuttle bus drivers ahead of a vote this weekend, in which unionized drivers in Silicon Valley will vote on a package for improved wages and benefits. Drivers are demanding hourly pay increases to $21-$25, which will then increase again to $22.50-$28.50 in three years. They also want pension […]
Apple has decided to hire the majority of its day-to-day security staff in Silicon valley as full-time employees, a company spokeswoman confirmed to the San Jose Mercury News. Many of the security guards that Apple has hired in the past as contractors will become part of the company’s expanded in-house security team and receive the same benefits as other employees, including full health insurance, retirement contributions and a leave of absence for new parents.
Apple security guard in dispute with photographer at iPad event (via The Australian)
Apple will continue using contractors as security guards for special events, such as the upcoming „Spring Forward“ media event at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts on March 9th. Apple is believed to have begun constructing an extension on the Yerba Buena Center over the weekend, possibly as an Apple Watch demo area, and security guards wearing „Apple Security“ shirts were spotted monitoring the premises.
„We will be hiring a large number of full-time people to handle our day-to-day security needs,“ the spokeswoman told the San Jose Mercury News. „We hope that virtually all of these positions will be filled by employees from our current security vendor and we’re working closely with them on this process.“
Apple has faced increasing pressure to provide individuals who cook, clean and monitor security for the company with the same benefits as other employees. Local union United Service Workers West staged a protest on Apple’s headquarters in Cupertino, California in December over complaints that its security contractor Security Industry Specialists treated workers poorly and that many positions were part-time.
Other service workers in Silicon Valley are also fighting for better wages and benefits. The Wall Street Journal reported that a group of 158 bus drivers working for Compass Transportation, which provides shuttle service for Apple, eBay, Genentech, Yahoo and Zynga, voted on Friday to be represented by local union Teamsters Local 853 in negotiations with Compass over fair working conditions.
The United States Department of Transportation has plans to pursue a ban on in-flight phone calls, reports The Wall Street Journal. In a speech last week at the International Aviation Club, general counsel of the Department Kathryn Thompson suggested restrictions were in the works, and a DOT spokesperson later confirmed the plans.
A spokeswoman confirmed that the DOT is developing „a notice of proposed rulemaking“ for publication in December. „At this point, there is no final determination“ as to what the notice or the final rule will say, said another spokeswoman.
The Department of Transportation’s move to pursue a ban on in-flight cellular phone calls follows an FCC proposal to overturn the current restrictions that prevent airline passengers from making phone calls and using cellular data while in flight.
The existing rules state that all cellular telephones on board an aircraft must be turned off when an aircraft leaves the ground in order to keep them from interfering with ground networks, but the FCC no longer believes in-flight interference is an issue. In 2013, the FCC officially relaxed its restrictions on the use of portable electronics in flight, allowing them to be used during landing and takeoff while in Airplane Mode.
After the FCC suggested it might permit cellular phone usage in flight, the Department of Transportation, airlines, and several other consumer groups expressed concern over the disruption voice calls could introduce if permitted in flight. Though airlines have largely been against in-flight cell phone calls, they believe the final decision on in-flight calls should be left up to them rather than in government control.
„Airlines aren’t clamoring to allow mobile-phone use during flight, and some have already said they’d prohibit it on their own flights,“ said Jeffrey Shane, general counsel for the International Air Transport Association, and a former senior Transportation Department policy maker. But Mr. Shane said some carriers may want to explore passenger-friendly ways to introduce calls, such as in-flight phone booths or quiet zones.
The FCC is continuing to investigate the safety of allowing cell phone service on planes, and a ban on voice calls from the Department of Transportation, which supersedes any FCC decision, may result in a situation where customers are permitted to use cellular data in-flight for texting and web browsing but are banned from making voice calls. The Department of Transportation is expected to release more information on a potential ban in December.