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While Apple has long been tight-lipped about its plans around self-driving technology, it appears that things are moving forward now that the tech giant has secured a permit to test the tech in California.

California has well and truly opened the floodgates. We’re not talking about Governor Jerry Brown’s recent announcement regarding the end of the drought emergency. Rather, we’re referring to the Department of Motor Vehicles’ decision to grant Apple an autonomous vehicle testing permit on Friday, allowing the iEmpire to use California’s public highways in testing self-driving technology.

Apple joins the ranks of numerous competitors also seeking to produce autonomous vehicles en masse — Alphabet, Tesla, and Uber all already have permission from California to conduct their own tests. So really, what’s the addition of one more company?

This marks the first time Apple has been given a permit for its autonomous cars, and suggests that the company is well and truly on its way to expanding its horizons. Soon, Apple’s hardware could be decidedly larger than the laptops and phones we’ve become so accustomed to. The permit allows Apple to test three 2015 Lexus sport-utility vehicles, all of which would be retrofitted with the necessary hardware and software that would allow them to operate without a driver. That said, the permit requires human operators to be present whenever the cars are on the road.

While Apple has been consistently cagey about its plans to delve into self-driving territory, the company did pen a letter to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration last year offering their support for autonomous technology. But even now, the firm is remaining tight-lipped — on Friday, an Apple spokesman declined to comment on the newly won permit.

Regardless, it seems like we’ll soon be seeing Apple cars on the road. “I’m not sure they know what their play will be, but they do sense there’s an opportunity and they can bring value to it,” Ben Bajarin, an analyst with technology-research firm Creative Strategies, told the Wall Street Journal. “The question is: How big is this commitment? And how much money are they throwing at this commitment? It’s hard to know where this lands on their priority list.”



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