Apple is Now Licensed to Test Self-Driving Cars in California

This permit isn't the first time Apple's company name has been listed in this space, having previously made government submissions - and it's unlikely you'll see Lexus vehicles with an Apple logo on the side.

As the state DMV tries to establish a path for the testing and deployment of fully autonomous vehicles in California, the largest and most populous among the 50 states in America, proposed new regulations were published last March 10, to be followed by a public hearing scheduled for April 25 in the state capital of Sacramento. 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. The company has always been rumored to be working on a mysterious "Project Titan" connected to vehicles, but has never confirmed that.

Multiple publications' attempts at getting a statement from Apple on this latest update resulted in a spokesperson redirecting them to a letter the company sent to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in 2016.

Apple was so mum about the project that some thought it may have been shuttered, said Michelle Krebs, executive analyst for Autotrader.

Aside from the new permit, Apple has provided little insight into its vehicle-related efforts.

Apple reps didn't respond to requests for comment. Lately, the autonomous vehicle project seems to be in flux.

In a retrenchment of one of its most ambitious initiatives, Apple has shuttered parts of its self-driving auto project and laid off dozens of employees, according to three people briefed on the move who were not allowed to speak about it publicly. There has been recurring speculation that Apple might eventually acquire Tesla, which has a market value of about US$50b. Nothing further was reported on that deal, and Apple had just two months before hired Dan Dodge, the founder and former CEO of QNX, a software company that specializes in "microkernel" operating systems and integrated driving and info-tainment systems which are used in multiple high-end vehicle brands including Audi, Jaguar, and Mercedez Benz.

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