Apple joins driverless auto test applicants

Rodiano Bonacci
Aprile 16, 2017

On Friday, the California Department of Motor Vehicles granted Apple an official test permit that the agency said would allow the company to test autonomous driving technology in three 2015 Lexus RX 450h luxury hybrid sport utility vehicles (SUVs). "Being able to test self-driving cars in California is nothing new, as many companies have permits in the state".

The same permit granted to Apple was also granted to 29 other companies that include Mercedes, Volkswagen, BMW, Bosch, Nissan, Honda and Ford among others.

But wait. Didn't Apple scrap its Project Titan (the one it never acknowledged until it said it was not going to make any self-driving cars) and start focusing only on the software part of autonomous driving technology? The current info details that while Apple is actively involved in self-driving vehicle testing to some degree, it is yet to be confirmed if the tech giant will be releasing its own auto in the near future or not.

When asked for comment, Apple pointed me back to their statement to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in December: "We've provided comments to NHTSA because Apple is investing heavily in machine learning and autonomous systems".

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Few details have been revealed about Apple's plans for self-driving cars, according to Autotrader executive analyst Michelle Krebs.

Apple's automotive research project has been under way for more than two years, but it is unclear how soon any product will emerge.

It's unclear what form Apple's interest in self-driving technology will take.

Although it has never openly acknowledged it is looking into building an electric vehicle, Apple has recruited dozens of auto experts in recent years, and the permit pulls the curtain back a bit on any possible plan.

While big-players like Google (via Waymo) and Uber have generated a lot of publicity over their autonomous vehicle technology, with Apple this has been more of the case of rumor without substance.

The ambiguity surrounding the effort was reflected in the numerous names that circulated about the project, such as the "Apple Car", "the iCar" and "Project Titan".

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