Apple has been granted a permit to test self-driving cars on the streets of California, was announced by California’s Department of Motor Vehicles on April 15. Apple has been given permission to use California’s public highways in testing self-driving technology.
The permit allows Apple to test three 2015 Lexus sport-utility vehicles, all of which would be retrofitted with the necessary hardware and software that would allow them to operate without a driver. That said, the permit requires human operators to be present whenever the cars are on the road.
Apple is working on automotive-related projects for a long time, but the company has never publicly confirmed any details. Apple expressed its interest in self-driving car technology only in the last year. The company was “excited about the potential of automated systems in many areas, including transportation”. There are rumors that Apple want to design its own car, however it is more possible that the company is focusing more on in-car software.
Internally known as Project Titan, the project at one point was understood to have more than 1,000 employees working on it, though the current scale of Apple’s efforts is unknown.
Encountering self-driving cars in California is a daily occurrence for those living around Silicon Valley. Apple has become the 30th company to be granted a testing permit.
Among the requirements for approval is to regularly report back statistics on the performance of the technology – including how often humans have to intervene when the computer gets it wrong.
Apple’s competitors have already been testing autonomous vehicles. Last year Waymo – a company spun out of Google’s self-driving programme – clocked up 635,868 miles in California. Statistics showed a human had to step in on average once every 5,000 miles of driving.