Apple secures permit to test self-driving vehicles
Apr 15 2017
The California Department of Motor Vehicles awarded Apple a permit to test autonomous vehicles Friday, April 14, 2017, and disclosed that information on its website.
Traditional carmakers such as Honda, Ford and Mercedes-Benz have also taken out permits to test autonomous vehicles in California, according the DMV's Friday release.
According to Business Insider, September 2015 is the period where documents reveal that Apple was in discussions with the state DMV to review self-driving vehicle regulations.
Obtaining a permit for autonomous vehicle testing requires multiple steps, including outlining details for each specific vehicle being tested, suggesting Apple may have some sort of test vehicle that's road ready.
Apple was not immediately available for comment.
Long suspected of working on a self-driving vehicle project, Apple has never openly and directly discussed its interest in cars.
Aside from the new permit, Apple has provided little insight into its vehicle-related efforts. Apple is believed be be primarily working on autonomous software, instead of a full vehicle, but the project is still shrouded in secrecy.
"For a company that has yet to publicly acknowledge its efforts in this area, this is as close to a tacit admission" as is likely to be given, said Michael Ramsey, a self-driving auto analyst with Gartner.
An Apple spokesperson declined to comment to the Wall Street Journal about the permit, referring the paper to its letter to NHTSA. This could send Apple for a loop, as the company is notorious for keeping all of their testing info a secret prior to launching new products.
It doesn't necessarily mean that you're going to see an Apple vehicle on the road tomorrow. That's the same plan as Waymo, the Alphabet subsidiary spun out of Google's Project X. In November, Apple was reportedly using its various engineers to make the Siri-controlled carOS heads-up display a reality.
It's still unclear whether this means that Apple will be manufacturing entire cars, or just developing the software that enables them to operate autonomously. A five-page letter to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration from Apple indicated their investment into machine learning and automation includes transportation.