Apple gets permit to test self-drive cars in California

Apple is joining the fiercely competitive race to design self-driving cars, raising the possibility that a company that has already re-shaped culture with its iPhone may try to transform transportation, too.

The Californian Department of Motor Vehicles (CDMV) permission allows Apple to test drive vehicles on public roads.

The permit covers three vehicles - all 2015 Lexus RX 450h hybrid SUVs - and six individual drivers. 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 believes that self-driving cars can save lives and accidents along with easing congestion.

The Cupertino, California, company pointed to a statement that it issued in December.

Late previous year, Apple submitted a letter to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in which it said that it was "investing heavily in the study of machine learning and automation, and is excited about the potential of automated systems in many areas, including transportation".

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.

General Motors this week announced that its autonomous driving efforts, investing $14 million and adding 1,100 jobs in a new research center in San Francisco.

Going public also means that Apple is required to disclose traffic incidents which occur during testing within 10 days of the event.

As of Friday, the list includes 30 companies, with Volkswagen Group of America, Mercedes Benz, Google, Delphi Automotive and Tesla Motors as the earliest entities receiving the permit. But it has often been a follower in markets that it eventually revolutionized.

Speculation about Apple's interest in expanding into automobiles began swirling in 2015 amid media reports that the company had begun secretly working on building its own electric auto under the name project "Titan". Apple has been working on Project Titan for several years, but has never formally acknowledged it.

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