Apple Self-Driving Car Project is Alive

Elizabeth Williams
April 16, 2017

Apple Inc (AAPL) has secured a permit to test autonomous vehicles in California, the state Department of Motor Vehicles said on Friday.

Apple will soon take its self-driving auto software platform to public streets for the first time, a major step that gets the world's largest technology company into a crowded race to reshape transportation.

As per The Verge report, "Late a year ago, Apple submitted a letter to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in which it said that it was "investing heavily in the study of machine learning and automation, and is excited about the potential of automated systems in many areas, including transportation".

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.

A list issued by the Department of Motor Vehicles on April 14, 2017 included a new name, namely Apple Inc. Apple had not openly announced that it was working on an electric vehicle. Apple has reportedly a thousand workers assigned to the Project Titan.

Chinese tech giant Baidu, which is working on autonomous driving at its California research center, this week announced the acquisition of xPerception, a United States startup that provides visual perception software, along with services and devices for people who are visually impaired.

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Apple to begin testing on self-driving cars
It seems unlikely at this point that the company will suddenly compete with vehicle makers with an Apple auto . According to Bloomberg , Apple's California permit "covers three 2015 Lexus RX540h SUVs and six drivers".

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The DMV's website was updated Friday to acknowledge Apple becoming a permit holder. Apple began to focus more on the self-driving technology past year after re-hiring former hardware executive Bob Mansfield to lead the project.

Apple's move into AV technology was not unexpected and the company was supposed to have "Project Titan" connected to vehicles in the works, but had not confirmed it.

The DMV has granted dozens of companies the rights to operate self-driving cars in California. At the moment, it appears that Apple is more focused on developing the software for the self-driving cars, than the actual vehicles themselves.

Many companies have said the first cars will launch in 2020 but some experts believe it may take much longer due to regulatory challenges. At the time, it was seen as the strongest hint that Apple was still committed to self-driving technology.

Per California DMV's policy, companies are required to file disengagement reports which disclose general facts about their driverless vehicle programs, including miles travelled. A quarter of all miles driven in the US may be traveled in shared, self-driving electric cars by the end of the next decade, Boston Consulting Group said this month.

Other reports by VgToday

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