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

Posted April 23, 2017

The California Department of Motor Vehicles' newly-updated list of carmakers and tech companies that are approved to test autonomous vehicles in the state now includes Apple. A company source told Bloomberg that autonomous vehicle testing would begin "soon", but declined to specify any further.

Apple was so mum about the project that some thought it may have been shuttered, said Michelle Krebs, executive analyst for Autotrader.

According to Apple spokesperson, test drive should improve artificial intelligence systems that must learn the ways to interact with an unpredictability of human drivers.

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Similar research is being carried out by other automakers including Ford, Nissan, Mercedes-Benz and Toyota, and by other groups including Uber and Google parent Alphabet.

However, a year ago it was said that Apple had terminated plans to produce its own auto for the market.

In December, Apple said that it is investing heavily in "machine learning and autonomous systems" in a statement to federal regulators, the AP reported. But a few months later, Uber filed all the appropriate paperwork anyway and is now permitted to test its technology on California roads. According to the California DMV, the permit was given for three 2015 Lexus RX450h vehicles, the same model that Google uses for its own program.

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SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Apple is joining the fiercely competitive race to design self-driving cars, raising the possibility that a company that has already re-shaped culture with its iPhone may try to transform transportation, too.

The NHTSA had sought comment on developing industry standards on self driving cars. "It will be interesting to see what form the test vehicles take and what can be gleaned about Apple's strategy".

Companies that wish to test vehicles must provide evidence that they can train qualified employee drivers, can insure their cars and will be liable for any damage incurred during tests.

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This is the next positive step taken by Apple where autonomous driving is concerned after Apple sent in a letter to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in November previous year. Its interest in autonomous vehicle technology, however, has always been clear.