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

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

But with its permit, Apple is leaping into an increasingly competitive race to build the world's first mainstream self-driving auto.

Apple has joined the list of companies with permits to test self-driving cars in California, according to an updated roster released on Friday by state officials.

Apple is the 30 company to obtain a testing permit in California, and it joins its fellow tech giants like Tesla Motors, Uber and Google, which has an independent self-driving vehicle subsidiary called Waymo, in the race to develop autonomous technology. In March, the state's DMV announced it was was bringing into the sunlight the autonomous vehicle testing being doing by companies in the state.

Apple is the 30th company to be approved by the state for autonomous vehicle testing.

Apple hinted at its self-driving vehicle ambitions in November, when the technology giant sent a letter to us regulators asking for clearer policies around self-driving auto safety.

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Self-driving cars also are likely to yield a gold mine, another reason that Apple is exploring an expansion beyond its main business of making phones, tablets and personal computers. Apple wants a piece of this action, but it's got a lot of competition: 29 other companies have autonomous vehicle testing permits in California.

Apple's self-driving technology is being developed in secret company offices in Sunnyvale, California, a short drive from its main Cupertino campus, Bloomberg News has reported.

"These rules expand our existing autonomous vehicle testing program to include testing vehicles where no driver is present", said DMV Director Jean Shiomoto.

It's still unclear whether this means that Apple will be manufacturing entire cars, or just developing the software that enables them to operate autonomously. "At the time, it was seen as the strongest hint that Apple was still committed to self-driving technology". Google and Uber have them, and the latter also started testing self-driving cars with its Pittsburgh customers late previous year.

The Cupertino, Calif. -based tech giant has always been rumored to be working on its own autonomous vehicle as part of an initiative called Project Titan, but has never officially confirmed its plans.