Published: Sun, April 23, 2017
Research | By Francis Brooks

The iPhone of cars? Apple enters self-driving car race


The California Department of Motor Vehicles has granted Apple a permit allowing it to begin testing self-driving cars on public roads.

The big question remaining is whether Apple is working on hardware for autonomous vehicles or just software, according to Munster.

Apple is believed to have started work on its driverless cars project, codenamed Project Titan, in 2014, and has hired ignificant figures from automotive companies including Ford, Tesla and Volkswagan in the past few years.

Similar research is being carried out by other automakers including Ford, Nissan, Mercedes-Benz and Toyota, and by other groups including Uber and Google parent Alphabet. This news alone quells one rumor: that Apple was designing its own auto.

The Department of Motor Vehicles in the company's home state confirmed on Friday the permit had been issued (via Reuters).

So, Apple's vision for autonomous systems clearly extends beyond transportation, but for now, they appear to be getting ready to burn some rubber (um, hopefully not) in California with their latest self-driving software.

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Apple's name was added to a list of 29 other companies testing self-driving cars in California, Business Insider first reported.

The thing is, the permit is for the cars themselves, but actually applies to the technology behind the self-driving capability of those cars.

The permit covers three vehicles - all 2015 Lexus RX 450h hybrid SUVs - and six individual drivers. "It will be interesting to see what form the test vehicles take and what can be gleaned about Apple's strategy".

But it's weird, isn't it, that a computer company that has made forays into entertainment in the last decade and has also become a telecom giant with the iPhone now wants to be a self-driving auto company too?

An Apple spokesman declined to comment directly on the filing, pointing back to a statement the company made in November when it wrote to the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) on the subject of regulating self-driving vehicles.

They are also required to submit regular reports outlining any accidents that happen during testing and times that drivers turn off a vehicle's autonomous systems during a test.

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