Apple Is Ready to Shake Up the Self-Driving Car Industry

The Cupertino based consumer electronics giant received a permit from the DMV that allows them to test self-driving cars on California roads. This suggests, as Gizmodo says, that Apple is likely more interested in keeping up with the technology itself than in actually producing a auto.

This is the most likely case for Apple right now, as it is definitely not in the car-making business. Public records also showed that the company had asked officials in the Contra Costa Transportation Authority about their self-driving-car testing site at the former Concord Naval Weapons Station.

"The permit covers three vehicles, all 2015 Lexus RX450h, and six drivers", the DMV said in a statement Friday. Under California law, self-driving cars that are being tested must have a person in them who can take over if anything goes wrong.

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".

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The DMV's website was updated Friday to acknowledge Apple becoming a permit holder. Most other companies holding the testing permit are technology startups.

The permit makes it clear that Apple is at least serious about developing self-driving vehicle technology and software, but not necessarily fully committed to making their own auto just yet.

Many companies have said the first self-driving cars will launch in 2020, but some experts believe it may take much longer due to regulatory challenges.

My personal guess would be that Apple is working towards the development of complete self-driving vehicle tech + vehicle operating systems - in other words, towards development of Apple-branded self-driving vehicle operating systems and hardware. By obtaining clearance from California's Department of Motor Vehicles, Apple is signaling that it is serious about pushing forward with self-driving technology despite reports last fall that it was scaling back its ambitions. Apple aims to decide on the final direction of the platform by fall of this year, Bloomberg News has reported.

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