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Apple gets permit to test self-driving cars in California

Apple declined to comment on the California permit or on its broader automotive plans

Vindu Goelapril | NYT  |  San Francisco 

Apple gets permit to test self-driving cars in California

plans to start testing self-driving cars on roads, the clearest signal yet that the world’s most valuable company wants to design or build autonomous vehicle

On Friday, the Department of Motor Vehicles granted an official test permit that the agency said would allow the company to test autonomous driving in three 2015 Lexus RX 450h luxury hybrid sport utility vehicles. The permit authorises six people to take control of the vehicles if necessary.

has been coy about its project, known internally as Project Titan. The iPhone maker has not officially acknowledged the existence of the project, which appeared to be adrift last year. The company laid off dozens of people in the fall and brought in one of its top troubleshooters, Bob Mansfield, to reinvigorate the effort.

In October, Tim Cook, Apple’s chief executive, told investors, “We are always looking at new things, and the car space in general is an area that it’s clear that there are a lot of technologies that will either become available or will be able to revolutionise the car experience.”

Neil Cybart, an independent analyst who writes about at the site Above Avalon, said the company appeared to have moved away from plans to build and sell cars in the way that Tesla does. Instead, he said, “they are working on a transportation platform.”

declined to comment on the permit or on its broader automotive plans, instead referring to a statement in December, when it submitted comments about autonomous vehicle to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration.

In those comments, the company said: “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.”

The segment is among the most bitterly contested areas in emerging technology, with joining 29 other that have received test permits in

The competition for talent in the sector is intense, with top employees receiving millions of dollars in compensation a year. The ride-hailing company Uber is locked in a nasty dispute with Google’s former car division, now known as Waymo, over Waymo’s accusations that a former company executive stole crucial that was later used by Uber.

Google, an early developer of the technology, considers self-driving cars to be a potential new market, while Uber hopes to eliminate the need for human drivers to shuttle its customers. And traditional automakers like General Motors and Ford Motor view the as a natural extension of their existing businesses.

Start-ups are also vying to enter the market. Udacity, an online education company co-founded by a pioneer of Google’s initiative, is building an open-source autonomous car and offering a training course to people who want to become engineers.
© 2017 The New York Times News Service

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