Apple has confirmed its plans to enter the self-driving car market, after the tech firm was awarded a permit to begin testing its autonomous vehicle technology on public roads in the US state of California.
The permit has been granted by the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), and will enable Apple to start testing its self-driving car technology using three Lexus RX 450h hybrid SUV vehicles.
Waymo, Tesla and Ford
The permit also provides for six individual drivers to take part in testing, since California law requires at least one person to be present in the car in order to take control of it in case something goes wrong.
Apple joins 29 other rival companies who have already been granted permits to test self-driving cars in California, including Google’s Waymo; Tesla; Ford; BMW; Volkswagen and Nissan.
“Investing heavily in autonomous systems”
In December 2016 the tech giant revealed that it is “investing heavily in machine learning and autonomous systems”, after its director of product integrity Steve Kenner wrote a letter to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) highlighting the technology’s potential in areas including transportation.
In the letter Kenner also highlighted the “significant societal benefits” of autonomous systems, and urged the NHTSA that “established manufacturers and new entrants should be treated equally” in order to promote fair competition.