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

Apple able to start the test drive of its self-drive cars, the California Department of Motor Vehicles has granted an official permission. Of course Apple's competitors have been testing autonomous vehicles long since that time.

Neil Cybart, an independent analyst who writes about Apple at the Web site Above Avalon, said the company appeared to have moved away from plans to build and sell cars like Tesla Motors Inc does.

While big-players like Google (via Waymo) and Uber have generated a lot of publicity over their autonomous vehicle technology, with Apple this has been more of the case of rumor without substance. Most other companies holding the testing permit are technology startups. That list had already included companies such as Tesla, Google and Uber, along with vehicle makers including BMW, Ford, Honda and Volkswagen. The company is investing heavily in the study of machine learning and automation, and is excited about the potential of automated systems in many areas, including transportation.

Apple has obtained a permit to test self-driving vehicles, putting the iPhone maker in competition with Google and others. But a few months later, Uber filed all the appropriate paperwork anyway and is now permitted to test its technology on California roads.

With $246 billion in cash, Apple also could easily afford to buy technology that accelerates its development of self-driving cars. As Business Insider reports, the company has secured a permit to test self-driving cars in Cupertino, suggesting that some sort of pivot to automotive technology is on the way.

Apple is pleased to provide the following comments on the proposed Federal Automated Vehicles Policy (Policy), published by the Department of Transportation and the National Highway TraSafety Administration (NHTSA). Those that do own testing permits are required to submit regular reports to the California DMV, so more will be known about Apple's specific autonomous exploits when the company submits its first report.

The permit does not necessarily mean Apple is building a auto.

Because the company hasn't built the electric auto it originally wanted to, the tech will be tested in existing cars.

"These rules expand our existing autonomous vehicle testing program to include testing vehicles where no driver is present", DMV Director Jean Shiomoto said then.

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