Apple gets permit to test autonomous cars in California

Toby Manning
April 15, 2017

A company source told Bloomberg that autonomous vehicle testing would begin "soon", but declined to specify any further.

Apple were awarded their permit Friday by the Californian Department of Motor Vehicles to start testing their technology on public roads. They asked not to be identified because the plans aren't public.

On Friday, April 14, California's DMV updated their webpage on Testing of Autonomous Vehicles, officially adding Apple's name to the list of companies allowed to test autonomous vehicles in the State. It pointed to a December statement it provided to federal regulators that stated Apple is investing heavily in "machine learning and autonomous systems" and noted "many potential applications" for these technologies. DMV rules require that a human driver always be seated in the auto even if it is on autonomous driving mode.

According to the California DMV, Apple has three vehicles registered under the autonomous driving permit, all of which are 2015 Lexus RX crossovers.

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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. Alphabet Inc.'s Waymo and Uber Technologies Inc.'s self-driving test cars also have people behind the wheel during tests.

Most major auto manufacturers and many technology groups are now developing autonomous vehicles, considered to be the future of the automobile, along with electric power, with first production models promised for around 2020. A March 30 copy of the website does not list Apple as having approval, indicating it was granted within the last two weeks. Apple began to focus more on the self-driving technology previous year after re-hiring former hardware executive Bob Mansfield to lead the project.

The iPhone maker has disclosed little about its ambitions when it comes to self-driving vehicles, with chief Tim Cook hinting at plans but the company declining to comment for news reports on long-idling rumors. Many companies have signed up for permit but haven't driven any miles, as per official data. This "disengagement report" is due by January 1 of each year.

Other reports by VgToday

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