In 2016, Apple made known their intention to dip their toes in making self-driving cars. Tech watchers predicted they were developing software rather actual vehicles. Whatever the case is, it looks like the company's autonomous technology is almost ready. Last Friday, California's Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) updated its website and added the firm's name to the long list of companies that are testing autonomous vehicles.
TechCrunch writes that Apple is allowed to test drive three 2015 Lexus SUVs as per the permit. This fleet of cars is similar to what Google used when they also took their self-driving cars on the road. Furthermore, the permit issued by DMV also allows for six drivers. This is in accordance with California's regulations when it comes to trial runs on public roads.
However, it is not clear what aspect of self-driving cars the company is developing, The Sydney Morning Herald notes. Company officials did not comment on questions regarding that and pointed to their public announcements about the project instead. They released those statements in November 2016 with regard to their application to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Back then, Apple said they wanted to work with NHTSA and drive for "best practices in the industry."
Apple may be the latest company amongst the many in the automation race but that does not mean they will be left behind. In fact, analysts say their foray could help hasten the arrival of self-driving cars on the market. In addition to that, their presence in the field could push competitors to develop a safer technology.
This will not be Apple's first venture into automation technology. Last year, they released CarPlay, an iOS application that allows users to connect their iPhones to their vehicles. But that had nothing to do with self-driving cars or the technology. The app served as an in-car infotainment server, a feature that is becoming ubiquitous in newer car models.