Apple Granted Self-Driving Vehicle Testing Permit In California

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The California Department of Motor Vehicles has granted Apple a permit to test self-driving vehicles in the state, the regulatory body recently revealed. The permit that was granted allows Apple to perform self-driving vehicle testing operations in 3 different vehicles, with 6 different drivers.

The vehicles in question are all 2015 Lexus RX450h models, it should be noted — rather than those little “Apple Cars” that we had seen a bit before. That seems to suggest that earlier reports that Apple is backing away from car development and refocusing on self-driving vehicle tech were accurate.

The news means that Apple joins the likes of Google/Waymo, Ford, GM, Tesla, Uber, Daimler, Baidu, and perhaps others in the possession of a California DMV self-driving vehicle testing permit.

The President of Consultancy at Theodore & Associates, and also a former vice president at Ford Motor Company and Chrysler, Chris Theodore, commented on the matter to Reuters: “This does confirm what’s long been rumored: that Apple is at least toying with the idea of getting into the autonomous game in some capacity. … This is not necessarily automobiles as initially rumored, but software or possibly hardware associated with autonomous technology.”

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.

Presumably, there would be a strong market for such a thing, considering how many people buy Apple smartphones, tablets, and laptops.

Reuters provides a bit more: “An Apple spokesman declined to comment directly on the filing, pointing back to a statement the company made in November when it wrote to the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) on the subject of regulating self-driving vehicles.”

That statement from Apple’s director of product integrity (previously of Ford), Steve Kenner, included this line: “The company 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.”

To add to my earlier statements on the matter, I’m curious, how many people reading this would prefer that their self-driving vehicle’s tech and operating/infotainment system be designed by Apple rather than in house by an auto manufacturer?

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James Ayre

James Ayre's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy.

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