Apple Inc plans to start testing self-driving cars on California roads, the clearest signal yet that the world's most valuable technology company wants to design or build autonomous vehicle technology.
On Friday, the California Department of Motor Vehicles provided tantalizing confirmation that not only is Apple working on automotive technology, it also has plans for autonomous vehicles.
Apple declined to comment on the California permit or on its broader automotive plans, instead referring to a statement released in December past year, when it submitted comments about autonomous vehicle technology to the US National Highway Transportation Safety Administration. "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", the company said in December 2015 while being questioned about its rumoured self-driving vehicle project.
A Lexus spokesman told The Post he had no "specific information" on why Apple chose its model, but added that its hybrid crossover SUVs "are a popular choice among companies looking to test future technologies".
Late previous year, Apple revealed it is investing heavily in autonomous vehicles in a letter asking the government to make it easier to develop self-driving cars. A quarter of all miles driven in the USA may be traveled in shared, self-driving electric cars by the end of the next decade, Boston Consulting Group said this month.
Since Google began its work on self-driving vehicles eight years ago, Waymo's fleet of self-driving cars has logged more than 2 million miles on the road.
This permit isn't the first time Apple's company name has been listed in this space, having previously made government submissions - and it's unlikely you'll see Lexus vehicles with an Apple logo on the side.
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The thing is, the permit is for the cars themselves, but actually applies to the technology behind the self-driving capability of those cars. Recent reports also suggest that Apple is working on self-driving software instead of developing a vehicle, like Tesla Motors and many other automobile companies are doing.
According to Moorehead, Apple was probably not building its own auto, however, and Project Titan might only be a code word for the firm's work on vehicle technology.