Apple handed self-driving test permit

California's Department of Motor Vehicles quietly updated its Web site Friday to include Apple in its list of 30 companies that have permits to test self-driving cars on California's public roads. The Cupertino firm has always been rumored to be working on a secret "Project Titan" linked to vehicles, but it never confirmed that. "This is not necessarily automobiles as initially rumored, but software or possibly hardware associated with autonomous technology", Theodore said.

The company will now join several tech and auto majors, including Google's Waymo, Uber (which has now acquiesced, and applied for a permit in California after its aggressive stance in 2016), NVIDIA, Faraday Future, BMW, Tesla and Mercedes Benz in their respective pursuits of the Holy Grail of Autonomous Vehicle Technology.

In another sign of the investment in self-driving cars, GM said this week it will add more than 1,100 jobs in California over five years at its Cruise Automation unit to boost its self-driving efforts. That leads us to believe that we could soon see at least three 2015 Lexus RX crossovers on California's public roads sporting Apple's self-driving technology.

Chinese tech giant Baidu, which is working on autonomous driving at its California research center, this week announced the acquisition of xPerception, a U.S. startup that provides visual perception software, along with services and devices for people who are visually impaired.

After a five-page letter last November from Steve Kenner, Apple's director of product integrity, to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the company was under increased speculation that they would enter into the competitive self-driving space.

Apple executives have been coy about their interest in cars.

The permit authorises six drivers to take control of the vehicles when necessary.

According to Apple spokesperson, test drive should improve artificial intelligence systems that must learn the ways to interact with an unpredictability of human drivers.



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