Apple is the latest addition to a list of entities that have received an autonomous vehicle testing permit from the California Department of Motor Vehicles. The company has never announced it is working on autonomous car tech, despite an overwhelming amount of circumstantial evidence. On Friday, it became official.
How do we know this? In March, the California DMV announced it would keep a public record of every company testing autonomous vehicles inside its borders. It also announced that the entities, listed here, would have to abide by a specific set of restrictions and report data to the state.
“These rules expand our existing autonomous vehicle testing program to include testing vehicles where no driver is present,” DMV Director Jean Shiomoto said in March. “This is the next step in eventually allowing driverless autonomous vehicles on California roadways.”
At the time, Apple wasn’t on the list.
In August of last year, Apple CEO Tim Cook told the Washington Post when asked about an Apple car project: “I can’t answer a question about something we haven’t announced.”
In September, Apple reportedly closed some parts of its car project — codenamed “Titan” and rumored to be located in this nondescript building — and laid off dozens of people.
In October, Bloomberg reported that Apple’s new approach would be to develop self-driving car technology and sell it to automakers, instead of making its own car from the wheels up. That’s the same plan as Waymo, the Alphabet subsidiary spun out of Google X. In November, Apple was reportedly using its various engineers to make the Siri-controlled carOS heads-up display a reality.
Even though the iCar dream is probably dead — think of those useless artist renderings — Cook and co. still have plans to create autonomy the Apple way.
Here’s the wording on the California DMV website as of Friday. Apple is the 30th entry.
As of April 14, 2017, DMV has issued Autonomous Vehicle Testing Permits to the following entities:
Volkswagen Group of America
GM Cruise LLC
Faraday & Future Inc.
Baidu USA LLC
Wheego Electric Cars Inc.
Valeo North America, Inc.
NextEV USA, Inc.
AutoX Technologies Inc
Renovo Motors Inc
UATC LLC (Uber)