Apple can now test self-driving vehicles in California

With Apple getting the permit by itself does not denote that Apple is in the self-driving car market, it however makes its intent lucidly clear.

In a significant milestone for the upcoming electric vehicle industry, Apple Inc has managed to secure a permit to test autonomous vehicles in the state California.

The development has fanned speculation that Cupertino is working on self-driving car technology, a crowded area.

As per the permit, Apple can conduct test drives in three vehicles with six drivers. All the vehicles are 2015 Lexus RX450h.

In the past Apple has tried to keep its cards close to its chest on its ambition of building an electric car. It has never acknowledged its electric car ambition however it has recruited dozens of auto experts.

Receiving the permit and its recruitments spree only goes to underscores its intent.

“This does confirm what’s long been rumored: that Apple is at least toying with the idea of getting into the autonomous game in some capacity,” said Chris Theodore, president of Theodore & Associates, a consultancy firm.

However the permit by itself does not necessarily mean that Apple is building a car.

“This is not necessarily automobiles as initially rumored, but software or possibly hardware associated with autonomous technology,” said Theodore.

Although Apple’s spokesman declined to comment directly on the filing, he however pointed to a statement made by the company in November when it wrote to the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) on the subject of regulating self-driving vehicles.

“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,” wrote Steve Kenner, Apple’s director of product integrity, in a five-page letter.

Although 2020 is the year when the market for electric cars are slated to get hot, regulatory challenges could potentially extend that date.

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