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

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Apple Inc.is able to start the test drive of its self-drive cars, the California Department of Motor Vehicles has granted an official permission. The list includes major automakers, including Ford, General Motors, BMW, Volkswagen and Tesla, as well as one of its biggest rivals in technology, Google, whose testing of self-driving cars has been spun off into an affiliate called Waymo.

Apple - which reportedly put its plans to develop a self-driving auto of its own on the back burner previous year - has obtained a permit to test its auto software on three 2015 Lexus RX540h vehicles with six different drivers, the DMV said Friday in an e-mailed statement. They will be testing the 2015 Lexus Rx 450 hybrid SUVs. Now out of nowhere there is proof that Apple is working on self-driving cars.

Apple does not test a full self-driving vehicle.

An Apple spokesman declined to comment beyond a statement issued in December when the company filed paperwork with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration regarding safety practices for self-driving cars.

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

"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", Kenner wrote. Companies interested in testing their self-driving vehicles in California must first apply to the DMV before they are allowed on the roads.

Most major auto manufacturers and many technology groups are now developing autonomous vehicles, considered to be the future of the automobile, along with electric power, with first production models promised for around 2020.

It has always been known that Apple is working on automotive-related projects, but the company has never publicly confirmed any details.

Till then, Apple will probably be busy taking its autonomous cars to the streets.

Traditional carmakers such as Honda, Ford and Mercedes-Benz have also taken out permits to test autonomous vehicles in California, according the DMV's Friday release. Apple had not openly announced that it was working on an electric auto.

The DMV's website was updated Friday to acknowledge Apple becoming a permit holder. It is rumored that over 1,000 employees are now working on " Project Titan" at their main and satellite offices. At the moment, it appears that Apple is more focused on developing the software for the self-driving cars, than the actual vehicles themselves. Apple's vehicles will also initially have a human driver in case of an emergency.

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