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Apple is joining the fiercely competitive race to design self-driving cars, raising the possibility that a company that has already re-shaped culture with its iPhone may try to transform transportation, too.
Ending years of speculation, Apple's late entry into a crowded field was made official Friday with the disclosure that the California Department of Motor Vehicles had awarded a permit for the company to start testing its self-driving car technology on public roads in the state.
The permit covers three vehicles — all 2015 Lexus RX 450h hybrid SUVs — and six individual drivers. California law requires people to be in a self-driving car who can take control if something goes wrong.
Apple confirmed its arrival in the market, but wouldn't discuss its intentions.
The Cupertino, California, company instead pointed to a statement that it issued in December. That comment came after Apple informed federal regulators of its interest in self-driving cars in a letter from Steve Kenner, a former Ford Motor executive who is now the company's director of product integrity.
"Apple is investing heavily in machine learning and autonomous systems," the company said then. "There are many potential applications for these technologies, including the future of transportation."
Like others, Apple believes self-driving cars could ease congestion and save millions of people who die annually in traffic accidents often caused by drunk or distracted motorists.
2017.04.15 / 09:29