The iPhone of cars? Apple enters self-driving car race

In March, the state's DMV announced it was was bringing into the sunlight the autonomous vehicle testing being doing by companies in the state. While other companies working on self-driving technology have shared their plans, Apple has remained silent about its project for self-driving vehicles.

Apple executives have been coy about their interest in cars.

Subject to standard regulations for testing autonomous technology on public roads, Apple's test cars will have a person behind the wheel to monitor the testing.

Apple happens to be a bit late to the party being the last on a rather long list of companies, which include usual suspects Mercedes, GM, Volkswagen, Tesla, Uber, Nissan, Ford and Honda, who have been awarded said permit to commence testing of the autonomous vehicles.

A statement from the DMV indicates that three cars, all of them 2015's Lexus RX450h models, have got permission under the current permit to take test runs in California. For quite a while, rumors swirled that Apple was creating a self-driving auto under Project Titan, but previous year, it was reported that the company gave up on this plan in favor of developing a software-based autonomous drive system.

That began to change in December, when the company wrote a letter to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration saying that it was "investing heavily" in machine learning to support autonomous systems, especially in transportation.

"There are many potential applications for these technologies, including the future of transportation, so we want to work with NHTSA to help define the best practices for the industry", Apple said at the time.

What's even more interesting about this piece of news is that having their name officially listed at the DMV could perhaps means that they have gone beyond the study of automation, and have gone on to the testing phase of an actual product, something that a spokesperson from the DMV confirmed. Now out of nowhere there is proof that Apple is working on self-driving cars.

Many companies have said the first cars will launch in 2020 but some experts believe it may take much longer due to regulatory challenges. Apple aims to decide on the final direction of the platform by fall of this year, Bloomberg News has reported.

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