Apple is Working on Self-Driving Car Technology

As of today, Apple Inc. joins the list of 30 companies that the California DMV has issued testing permits to for autonomous vehicles to be driven on public roads.

Why this matters: This is the first indication we've seen in a while that Apple's super-secret Project Titan is still in the pipeline.

It remains far from a certainty that Apple will being the much-vaunted iCar to consumers and it's probably still a long shot.

Apple provided no new comment on its autonomous driving programme, but referred to a statement in December when it acknowledged plans to develop self-driving cars with a letter to the highways regulator. A quarter of all miles driven in the US may happen in shared, self-driving electric cars by the end of the next decade, Boston Consulting Group said this month.

After a five-page letter last November from Steve Kenner, Apple's director of product integrity, to NHTSA, the company was under increased speculation that they would enter into the competitive self-driving space. At last, the company's secretive efforts was crowned by the success.

The permit allows Apple to begin testing up to three Lexus SUVs similar to the type that Google uses for its autonomous cars. For quite a while, rumors swirled that Apple was creating a self-driving vehicle under Project Titan, but a year ago, it was reported that the company gave up on this plan in favor of developing a software-based autonomous drive system.

Truth be said, the license only confirms that Apple's autonomous vehicle initiative isn't completely dead.

The deal supports a $14 million investment GM is making in a new research and development facility in the technology corridor that is expected to result in an additional 1,100 new jobs, The Detroit News reported.

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, the person said.

They are also required to submit regular reports outlining any accidents that happen during testing and times that drivers turn off a vehicle's autonomous systems during a test.

With major Silicon Valley tech firms and USA carmakers jumping into the frenzy to bring the technology to the market, the possibility that Apple will join the fray has fascinated the valley.

  • Carolyn Briggs