Apple gets permit to test self-drive cars in California

Subject to standard regulations for testing autonomous technology on public roads, Apple's test cars will have a person behind the wheel to monitor the testing. As per media reports, the company hired automobile and self-driving technology experts and has setup a team under Project Titan to develop its autonomous vehicle.

Much-discussed and sometimes despaired of, there's finally official word that Apple is working on a self-driving car, joining the dozens of other tech and auto companies approved to test autonomous vehicles in California. Apple has remained secretive about its self-driving project.

That means Apple has a long way to catch up in self-driving technology.

For years, annual iPhone rumors have been forced to compete with similarly hyped whisperings regarding the possibility of an Apple self-driving vehicle.

But wait. Didn't Apple scrap its Project Titan (the one it never acknowledged until it said it was not going to make any self-driving cars) and start focusing only on the software part of autonomous driving technology?

Apple said in a November letter to the National Highway Traffic Safety Commission that it 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".

This is not the first time Apple has leapt into the automotive space.

The original vision of building a whole "Apple Car" may have been diluted by the realities of actually engineering the hardware, which arguably falls well outside Apple's design expertise in consumer technology.

Despite the permit, it's still unclear what specific aspect Apple is working on.

It has always been known that Apple is working on automotive-related projects, but the company has never publicly confirmed any details.

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. A March 30 copy of the website does not list Apple as having approval, indicating it was granted within the last two weeks. So, why do they need a permit for testing?

  • Arturo Norris