The iPhone of cars? Apple enters self-driving car race


On Friday, California's Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) updated its website to reflect that Apple now has a permit to test self-driving cars on public roads. A DMV spokeswoman noted, "Today, April 14, 2017, California Department of Motor Vehicles issued Apple, autonomous vehicle test permit".

Apple Inc. has secured a permit to test autonomous vehicles in California, supporting speculations that it is delving into self-driving automotive technology. The country's largest automaker by sales is testing more than 50 autonomous Chevrolet Bolt electric vehicles on public roads in San Francisco, the Detroit metropolitan area and Scottsdale, Arizona.

This means that Apple has secured a permit to test its self-driving vehicle in California.

The company was also at one point thought to be designing a top-to-bottom vehicle, but the company had reined in the project due to a number of obstacles and switched to the more narrow focus of a self-driving platform.

"This does confirm what's always been rumored: that Apple is at least toying with the idea of getting into the autonomous game in some capacity", said Chris Theodore, president of consultancy Theodore & Associates, and a former executive at Ford Motor Co (F) and Chrysler.

Apple CEO Tim Cook once responded to a reporter that "It's going to be Christmas Eve for a while".

The ambiguity surrounding the effort was reflected in the numerous names that circulated about the project, such as the "Apple Car", "the iCar" and "Project Titan". All the companies, which include Uber, Tesla, Google and auto makers Mercedes Benz, Volkswagen, Subaru, BMW, Ford, and Honda, have to submit accident reports and annual reports to the DMV - but as of January 1 of this year, only seven of the companies had been permitted long enough to have to submit annual reports. "There are many potential applications for these technologies, including the future of transportation, so we want to work with NHTSA to help define the best practices for the industry", Apple said at the time.

"It's encouraging to hear Apple is still in the autonomous vehicle game", said Rebecca Lindland, executive analyst at Kelley Blue Book. Apple has never officially confirmed whether or not they are working on their own self-driving vehicles. However, some others say that the company is not working on a vehicle.