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Apple granted permit to test self-driving cars in California

A Tesla-style concept of the Apple Car from CarWow

Apple’s car project has gone quiet over the last few months after frequent reports detailed the company’s efforts to develop an electric vehicle. Now there’s a new development via Business Insider: Apple has registered with the state of California to test self-driving vehicles.

Apple’s name was added to the list of companies with Autonomous Vehicle Testing Permits on the Department of Motor Vehicles website in California today for the first time after two years of reports that Apple is testing self-driving car technology.

Back in September 2015, documents showed Apple was in discussions with the state DMV to review self-driving car regulations.

The development shows Apple is actively involved in self-driving car testing to some degree regardless of whether or not Apple is still planning on developing an electric vehicle of its own.

The permit means that Apple can now test self-driving prototypes on California’s public roads, but the company could have been testing prototypes in private facilities before that.

Prior to today’s report, Apple partner Didi Chuxing opened its own self-driving lab near Apple in California. Prior to that development, Apple appeared on a letter to the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration urging the department not to restrict autonomous vehicle testing.

Apple uses machine learning to make its products and services smarter, more intuitive, and more personal. 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.

Last fall KGI released a report claiming Apple’s work on augmented reality would be applied to autonomous driving technology, although a month prior it was reported that work on Apple’s actual electric vehicle was halted as the focus moved to self-driving technology alone.

Last summer it was reported that Apple recruited ex-hardware lead Bob Mansfield to reboot the Apple Car project which suggested the electric car could be the product before later reports toned down expectations. While today’s new development doesn’t fully suggest the electric car is back on the table, it does show Apple is actively working on autonomous vehicle technology in some capacity.

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