The permit awarded by California's Department of Motor Vehicles is Apple's first for autonomous cars and allows it to test drive vehicles on public roads in the largest USA state by population; Alphabet and Tesla already hold the same permits.
Apple is on track to begin testing self-driving cars in California.
Apple is now among the thirty or so companies that have a permit to test self-driving cars in the State of California. Securing approval to test its vehicles was likely no small task given that regulators have recently been given reason to be wary about allowing more self-driving cars on the road.
This appears to confirm reports that the company has refocused its efforts from designing its own auto to "building out the underlying technology for an autonomous vehicle". The Cupertino firm has always been rumored to be working on a secret "Project Titan" linked to vehicles, but it never confirmed that.
Per Business Insider, Apple did not comment when asked if they are now "testing autonomous vehicles on public roads". "We'll know more about Apple's secretive efforts after the company files its first report".
The permit doesn't do anything to clear up exactly what Apple's autonomous vehicle plans are. It has been referred to as "part of an initiative called Project Titan".
That means Apple has a long way to catch up in self-driving technology. As The Verge also describes, the question of whether or not Apple is currently testing driverless vehicles remains unknown for now.
Last month, Swiss publication Inside IT claimed that Apple had hired more than ten post-doctoral students from ETH Zurich to work at its research facility in Switzerland.