back to article Apple quietly wheels out 'Voxelnet' driverless car tech paper

Apple researchers have released a paper about a "trainable deep architecture", setting out the fruity firm's plans to make autonomous vehicles better at detecting cyclists and pedestrians. The paper, jointly authored by Apple researchers Yin Zhou and Oncel Tuzel, details a system the pair call Voxelnet. A voxel is a point on a …

  1. jake Silver badge

    If Apple can patent "round corners" and "paper bags" ...

    ... I rather think Opel Automobile GmbH is going to have something to say about the brand-confusion that will be caused by the automobile-related name Vauxhall^WVoxelnet ...

    1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

      Re: Opel Automobile GmbH

      don't you mean PSA of France?

      Voxelnet is hardly a trademark violation wrt Vauxhall. For one, Voxelnet is a network of points in a 3D space and not the name of a range of cars.

      If Apple were ever (unlikely) to release a car it would be called either "iCar" or "Apple Car(t)" or something equally stupid and moronic.

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: Opel Automobile GmbH

        I don't think you understand how trademark dilution works, Steve. According to corporate land-sharks, anyway.

      2. TRT Silver badge

        Re: Opel Automobile GmbH

        I think they'll ditch the reference to car or auto, because 1) it doesn't create a worldwide brand and 2) they'll want to redefine a concept.

        It'll be short, snappy and descriptive of the look. Like a Pod maybe, but they've already used that one... it'll be the iCraft or the Vessel or something. The Voyager. Yes, that's the one... the Apple Voyager.

        1. Dave 126

          Re: Opel Automobile GmbH

          FFS, it's a pet name for a system, not a consumer-ready feature that requires a snappy trademarked name. Strewth, if you really want to rehash the most tired of jokes rather than discuss an interesting technological approach then you are a borish pillock.

          1. jake Silver badge

            Re: Opel Automobile GmbH

            Dave 126 ... it looks to me, judging by the paper they published, that they are rather set on the name. And what tired old jokes are those? Near as I can tell, thems the facts, and hardly funny.

            I wasn't discussing the technology, I was discussing what I would do if I were a land-shark in charge of protecting the intellectual property of a major company. In my mind, Apple is running the risk of trademark infringement using that near-homophone in the context of automobiles. I'm sorry if that upsets your "apple can do no wrong" mindset.

            Funny how folks without a logical leg to stand on often resort to ad hominem ...

        2. DropBear

          Re: Opel Automobile GmbH

          Good direction, but not ambitious enough. The people who call browsing "safari" won't bear calling a car anything less than "Odyssey"...

          1. TRT Silver badge

            Re: "Odyssey"

            Pilgrimage? Crusade? Peregrination? Ah! The Peregrine. That's one model name taken care of. Yes... that's a marketing wet dream isn't it?

            Here at Apple, we looked around and thought, "You know, there's lots of technology companies making self-driving cars, and electric vehicles", but at the end of the day they're all still little tin boxes who's purpose is getting you from A to B. We weren't interested in that, we'll leave that to the others. We thought, "You know, wouldn't it be great if we could take the functionality of a car and get rid off all the hassle of ownership - all the maintenance and insurance..." that'd be great, wouldn't it? But for us at Apple, that's not enough. The car is like a little home away from home for the duration of your journey, right? So, what if we were to add to that journey all of the really great things that people enjoy when they're at home. And what if we took all of the things they enjoy when they're moving around too? Woah, that'd be really hard, right? I mean how would you make that work, eh? You want to combine people's cars with their houses and their phones? Come on... you can't make that work, can you? Well, let me introduce to you a new concept in land based vehicular transportation... the iVoyage Odyssey.

            *mirrors and smoke effect*


            And for the more budget conscious individual...

            *mirrors and smoke*

            The iVoyage Peregrine.

            You're probably looking at these babies and thinking, "How do I get to own one of these?"

            Well, let me answer that by telling you now... you don't.

            Introducing... iVoyage Freedom. A subscription pass that gives you affordable access to a fleet of iVoyagers tailored to meet your own requirements at the moment that you need them. They will come to you, wherever you need, whenever you need. 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

            1. jake Silver badge

              Re: "Odyssey"

              "Ah! The Peregrine."

              Most likely product to return to Earth in a shower of sparks.

            2. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

              Re: "Odyssey"

              This is how it's going to be, more or less. Cars as a service. And don't think you'll be able to use them to go wherever you want whenever you want. You won't even get near the places where you're not wanted. Like places you can't afford.

              1. jake Silver badge

                Re: "Odyssey"

                Cars only available as a service? Over my dead body!

                Any politician who even suggests this as a law here in the United States will be tarred & feathered and run out of town on the rail. The bastards know it, too ...

    2. Matthew 3

      Re: If Apple can patent "round corners" and "paper bags" ...

      Here's how it will pan out: Vauxhall will complain and Apple will give the Voxel the 'sosumi' start-up sound.

  2. Adam 52 Silver badge

    "LIDAR-based 3D detection methods by a large margin"

    Is not a particularly scientific statement, and might lead a reader to believe some fudging is going on. The authors, however, go on to say "VoxelNet significantly outperforms the state-of-the-art method MV (BV+FV+RGB) [5] based on LiDAR+RGB, by 10.68%, 2.78% and 6.29% in easy, moderate, and hard levels respectively" which is much more honest statement.

    You can see why Apple are reluctant to talk to El Reg, maybe they don't like their quotes being misrepresented.

  3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    "A voxel is a point on a 3D grid."

    It's actually a small volume, not an actual point, just as a pixel is an area on your screen.

    Hence the description: "a group of points within each voxel" (my emphasis).

    OTOH what's a "trainable deep architecture"? It sounds like a ventilation shaft above a railway tunnel.

    1. Adam 52 Silver badge

      "OTOH what's a "trainable deep architecture"? It sounds like a ventilation shaft above a railway tunnel."

      I think it means they used three stacked multi-layer perceptrons [I didn't really try to understand that bit of the paper], but these days everything has to be called "deep machine learning" and neural net sounds so last-century.

  4. Mellipop

    I don't suppose there are too many kangaroos in California.

    1. jake Silver badge

      Plenty of kangaroos in California.

      We just call 'em "possums". Fucking useless introduced species.

  5. Mage Silver badge


    LIDAR has a few problems.

    1) It's not that reliable

    2) Interference / performance if every car is using it

    3) Vulnerable to DOS, spoofing and other attacks.

    "but these days everything has to be called "deep machine learning" and neural net sounds so last-century."

    Yes. True. I'm very sceptical, fuelled by my own 35+ years programming experience and so called AI research.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: LIDAR


      I hear that flat shiny surfaces can be a real problem for a LIDAR. And glass is also a problem; the light can (depending on the composition of the glass and the laser wavelength) go right through

  6. Ian Joyner Bronze badge


    "Apple is notorious for keeping its technology advances largely under wraps"

    Please don't use silly adjectives to cast aspersion.

    Apple is secretive because others are notorious for ripping off their ideas and work. Look at what happened when Gates rushed Windows to market after stealing Macintosh code. Apple decided - not again.

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