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Apple is Now Licensed to Test Self-Driving Cars in California

April 14, 2017, 6:13 PM UTC
Photograph by Getty Images

Apple has received a permit to test autonomous vehicles in California, according to the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles, marking the clearest sign yet that the secretive company is developing self-driving car technology.

The permit, which was first spotted by Business Insider, adds Apple’s name to a list of 30 other companies approved to test self-driving cars in California includingGoogle, Ford, and General Motors. Companies are required to get a permit before testing autonomous vehicles on the state’s public roads.

The permit is significant because it all but confirms Apple’s work on self-driving technology, although the focus of that push is unclear. Apple executives have never spoken at length about the company’s effort in the space, but a number of leaks provide a glimpse at what the company is up to.

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Apple has been hiring automotive design and software experts for the effort, reportedly called Project Titan internally. In early 2016, CEO Tim Cook fielded a question at the company’s annual shareholder meeting about developing a car, to which he provided a cryptic response that neither confirmed nor denied the project.

“Do you remember when you were a kid, and Christmas Eve, it was so exciting, you weren’t sure what was going to be downstairs?,” he said. “Well, it’s going to be Christmas Eve for a while.”

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Apple hinted at its self-driving car ambitions in November, when the technology giant sent a letter to U.S. regulators asking for clearer policies around self-driving car safety. At the same time, Apple is said to have had problems with whatever it is developing based on a report in September that said it had laid off dozens of employees at its self-driving car project, and shuttered parts of it.