Apple gets green light for autonomous car tests

James Pearce
Published on:

Californian authorities have granted the iPhone-maker with a permit to test autonomous vehicles in the US state

Apple has been given the thumbs up by Californian authorities to start tests on self-driving vehicles.

The iPhone-maker is the latest technology firm to win approval to test autonomous vehicles on roads in Silicon Valley, following Google-parent Alphabet, Ford, Volkswagen, and Tesla.

It is the latest indication that Apple is looking to enter the automotive industry, after the manufacturer recruited a number of car experts in the last few years. However, it does not mean the manufacturer is building a car, as the tests will be carried out by 2015 Lexus RX450h vehicles, according to US reports.

The license will allow Apple to test hardware and software in three of the Lexus vehicles, and also covers six human operators, who will sit behind the wheel during tests for safety and monitoring purposes.

Apple has remained tight-lipped about its ambitions in this space, releasing just one statement to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in November.

“Apple is investing heavily in the study of machine learning and automation, and is excited about the potential of automated systems in many areas, including transportation,” the company’s director of product integrity, Steve Kenner, wrote in a five-page letter.

Telcos have a key interest in self-driving vehicles, which are expected to become a key revenue driver in the burgeoning Internet of Things market. Autonomous vehicles are expected to use a huge amount of data, offering big opportunities for mobile operators.

For companies such as Apple and Google, the value of self-driving vehicles is in control of the ecosystem and the data drivers will generate. Both Californian giants offer in-car infotainment systems in partnership with car manufacturers, and this latest news shows Apple is looking to expand its reach in the automotive industry.