Apple is testing self-driving cars in California

It’ll probably need larger stores.
It’ll probably need larger stores.
Image: AP Photo/Mark Lennihan
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Apple may soon join the ranks of Silicon Valley and Detroit companies testing self-driving cars on the streets of northern California.

The California department of motor vehicles (DMV) routinely publishes a list of the companies that it has granted permits to test autonomous vehicles and software on public roads. Its most recent list, published today, includes Apple as a permit holder.

The DMV confirmed to Quartz that Apple has been granted a permit that covers three Lexus RX450h SUVs, as well as six drivers. Apple wasn’t immediately available to discuss its automotive plans.

Although the company has never formally admitted that it’s working on any sort of automotive technology (beyond the software it designed to connect iPhones to car entertainment systems), it has long been reported that the company has been researching electric and self-driving cars, hiring car designers and automotive experts over the last few years. It has apparently struggled with developing a car, and may have shifted to developing more car software (rather than an actual car), reports from October suggested, with some reporters saying the software’s public tests are now imminent.

In December, Apple tacitly admitted that it was indeed working on some sort of autonomous vehicle when it sent a letter to the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) discussing the government’s regulations on testing and deploying such vehicles on US roads. The company implied that it was a “new entrant” to the automotive manufacturing industry, and requested to be treated the same as established car companies in the eyes of regulators.

Whether Apple is working on automotive hardware or software, it now has the ability to test its research in public in its home state.

Here’s the full list of companies that have been granted permits by California’s DMV to test self-driving cars in the state:

  • Volkswagen Group of America
  • Mercedes Benz
  • Google
  • Delphi Automotive
  • Tesla Motors
  • Bosch
  • Nissan
  • GM Cruise LLC
  • BMW
  • Honda
  • Ford
  • Zoox, Inc.
  •, Inc.
  • Faraday & Future Inc.
  • Baidu USA LLC
  • Wheego Electric Cars Inc.
  • Valeo North America, Inc.
  • NextEV USA, Inc.
  • Telenav, Inc.
  • NVIDIA Corporation
  • AutoX Technologies Inc
  • Subaru
  • Udacity, Inc
  • Navya Inc.
  • Renovo Motors Inc
  • UATC LLC (Uber)
  • PlusAi Inc
  • Nuro, Inc
  • CarOne LLC
  • Apple Inc.