Business & Economy

Apple to begin testing self-driving car tech in California

In this Friday, Sept. 25, 2015, photo, people wait in front of an Apple store in Munich, before the worldwide launch of the iPhone 6s. Apple wants to develop its own self-driving technology. The iPhone-maker’s automotive project, long an open secret in Silicon Valley, is shifting to focus on creating the technology for an autonomous vehicle that doesn’t require a human driver.
In this Friday, Sept. 25, 2015, photo, people wait in front of an Apple store in Munich, before the worldwide launch of the iPhone 6s. Apple wants to develop its own self-driving technology. The iPhone-maker’s automotive project, long an open secret in Silicon Valley, is shifting to focus on creating the technology for an autonomous vehicle that doesn’t require a human driver.
Matthias Schrader/AP

Apple will begin testing self-driving car technology in California, its first public move into a highly competitive field that could radically change transportation.

The California Department of Motor Vehicles awarded Apple a permit to test autonomous vehicles Friday and disclosed that information on its website. A spokesman for the department said the permit will cover three vehicles — all 2015 Lexus RX 450h hybrid SUVs — and six individual drivers. The state requires a human behind the wheel during such testing.

Apple confirmed that it will begin testing self-driving technology in the state, but provided no details. It pointed to a December statement it provided to federal regulators that stated Apple is investing heavily in "machine learning and autonomous systems" and noted "many potential applications" for these technologies.