Apple 'Almost Certainly' Exploring The Idea Of Making A Whole Car

Posted April 19, 2017

The maker of the iPad and iPhone is reportedly the 30th company to receive an autonomous driving permit in California - a list that includes tech industry rivals, conventional automakers and ambitious startups.

To test autonomous vehicles, the California DMV requires companies to register for autonomous driving permit report their disengagement rates to the DMV, so that they can be made public. This is the first time that the company has received approval to begin testing.

Initial rumors referred to an autonomous auto as the final objective of Apple's efforts, but other reports have announced that it has changed its goals to making software for driverless vehicles.

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Whether they plan to run tests on vehicles to produce such autonomous cars themselves or to simply develop software for existing autonomous vehicles, is yet to be revealed.

The license will allow Apple to test hardware and software in three of the Lexus vehicles, and also covers six human operators, who will sit behind the wheel during tests for safety and monitoring purposes. While the project is rumored to have started previous year, the company really has no choice but to kick it up a notch in 2017 - with Tesla (of course), Mercedes-Benz, Infiniti, and BMW all working on autonomous driving systems, the competition is steep. It is common practice during autonomous vehicle testing to have a driver behind the wheel to monitor the process. Instead, according to Neil Cybart, an independent Apple analyst, "They are working on a transportation platform". Apples self-driving auto, codenamed project Titan, has been kept rather secretive and has never been formally acknowledged. For years now, the unit has been developing self-driving technology, but last year, it brought on Bob Mansfield, an longtime Apple executive and engineer, to scale back and set new goals.

The self-driving auto platform is designed so that Apple could choose to open it up to existing carmakers or eventually port it to an Apple-designed vehicle. Apple aims to decide on the final direction of the platform by fall of this year, Bloomberg News has reported.