Apple Inc. is now authorized to test autonomous cars on public roads in California, becoming the 30th company to receive such a testing permit from the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles.
Apple’s permit, issued on April 14, applies to the operation of three autonomous 2015-model year Lexus RX 450h vehicles, according to a report from the Los Angeles Times. Six human drivers will oversee the tests.
California law currently requires that human drivers occupy all autonomous test cars so the drivers can instantly assume manual control if the autonomous system falters. Such autonomous system disengagements are chronicled in reports submitted annually to the DMV.
In the past, Apple has been reticent to reveal details about its plans for the self-driving vehicle marketplace. That stance appears not to have changed. When the Times asked about the newly issued permit, an Apple representative referred the reporter to a previously released — and notably vague — statement confirming the company’s intention to heavily invest in machine learning and autonomous systems.
Apple joins an already crowded field of tech leaders hoping to make their mark on the evolving self-driving vehicle market. The other holders of autonomous vehicle testing permits in California are: Volkswagen Group of America, Mercedes Benz, Waymo (Google), Delphi Automotive, Tesla Motors, Bosch, Nissan, GM Cruise, BMW, Honda, Ford, Zoox, Drive.ai, Faraday & Future, Baidu USA, Wheego Electric Cars, Valeo North America, NextEV USA, Telenav, NVIDIA Corp., AutoX Technologies, Subaru, Udacity, Navya, Renovo Motors, UATC (Uber), PlusAi, Nuro and CarOne.