Drivers, You're Doing It Wrong: Apple Enters Self-Driving Car Arena With Permit In California

Apple’s rumored self-driving car technology may soon be a reality. Forgive us for burying the lede bit with a wonderful old time Steve Jobs reference, but regardless, the California Department of Motor Vehicles has granted the company permission to test self-driving vehicles on public roads. Apple joins a list of twenty-nine other companies, such as Google, NVIDIA and Tesla, that have been granted testing permits.

A DMV spokeswoman noted, “Today, April 14, 2017, California Department of Motor Vehicles issued Apple, Inc. an autonomous vehicle test permit. The permit covers three vehicles, all 2015 Lexus RX450h, and six drivers”.

apple headquarters
Credit: Jon Ravi, Wikimedia Commons

Apple has never officially confirmed whether or not they are working on their own self-driving vehicles. It is rumored that over 1,000 employees are currently working on “Project Titan” at their main and satellite offices. It is also believed that they have a self-driving road course in California. Apple CEO Tim Cook once responded to a reporter that “It's going to be Christmas Eve for a while”.

Apple’s permit from the DMV and their recent letter to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) establish that they are not far behind its competitors. In their letter to the NHTSA, they noted that “ the company is investing heavily in the study of machine learning and automation, and is excited about the potential of automated systems in many areas, including transportation”. They further argued that self-driving vehicles will reduce the number of accidents and provide transportation to those who are unable to drive. At the moment, it appears that Apple is more focused on developing the software for the self-driving cars, than the actual vehicles themselves.

apple store

Companies interested in testing their self-driving vehicles in California must first apply to the DMV before they are allowed on the roads. Apple’s vehicles will also initially have a human driver in case of an emergency. It is believed that Apple will assess their formally assess their progress by the end of this year.