Apple receives permit to test self-driving cars in California

Apple is the latest of 30 companies to be given a permit from the state.

ByJULIA JACOBO
April 14, 2017, 3:54 PM

— -- The California Department of Motor Vehicles has granted Apple a permit allowing it to begin testing self-driving cars on public roads.

The DMV updated its list of manufacturers testing self-driving cars on Friday, with Apple becoming the 30th company to be granted permission.

Few details have been revealed about Apple's plans for self-driving cars, according to Autotrader executive analyst Michelle Krebs. But she said Apple could be a "major player" in the autonomous vehicle industry.

The permit will cover three types of vehicles -- all 2015 Lexus RX540h models --and six individual drivers, the California DMV said in a statement to ABC News.

Apple has never publicly acknowledged its self-driving car program. A company spokesman would not provide additional details about the efforts to ABC News.

Household names like Google, Tesla and Ford are also on the California DMV's list. Volkswagen Group of America was the first company to be granted a permit.

In December, Apple said that it is investing heavily in "machine learning and autonomous systems" in a statement to federal regulators after the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration made public an Apple letter giving input on autonomous car regulations.

Regulations require every manufacturer authorized to test self-driving cars to submit an annual report "summarizing the disengagements of the technology during testing," according to the DMV. The state of California also requires that a human be behind the wheel of autonomous vehicles during testing.

"We’ve provided comments to NHTSA because Apple is investing heavily in machine learning and autonomous systems. There are many potential applications for these technologies, including the future of transportation, so we want to work with NHTSA to help define the best practices for the industry," Apple said at the time.

California regulations for the technology became effective in September 2014.

ABC News' Zunaira Zaki contributed to this report.

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