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Apple ramping self-driving car testing, more CA permits than Tesla and Uber

Apple doesn’t appear to be slowing down on its mysterious self-driving car technology testing. As noted in a new report on Uber’s fatal accident involving an autonomous vehicle, the Financial Times includes new data on how many self-driving cars Apple may be testing in California.

Based on figures provided by the Department of Motor Vehicles in California, Apple now has permits to test a total of 45 self-driving vehicles on public roads in its home state. That number is up from 27 just a few months ago and just three to start almost a year ago.

As FT highlights, Apple’s permit number not only shows that it is ramping up its autonomous vehicle technology testing in recent months by expanding its fleet, but 45 permits also tops Tesla’s 39 permits and Uber’s 29 permits. However, in the case of Tesla, the company hasn’t done any testing in California since November of 2016.

I would guess the difference may be that Apple’s testing may be limited to California compared to Tesla and Uber testing in other states as well, but the comparison is striking considering Apple has been generally quiet on its plans for self-driving car testing.

Several of the white SUVs loaded with LIDAR equipment have been spotted out of the roads since Apple was granted permission to test self driving cars publicly.

Apple hasn’t announced any specific product plans associated with all of its self driving car testing, but CEO Tim Cook has publicly discussed interest in autonomous system research at Apple with vehicles being one use case for the tech. Cook has even described the company’s effort as a ‘large project’ around autonomous systems.

The effort was first reported to be around a project involving Apple actually making an electric vehicle of its own under codename Project Titan, but that effort has since evolved into more focused testing of autonomous systems specifically.

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