For several months the rumor was that Apple was going to build autonomous vehicles and test them on the road before offering them for public sale. This rumor had many of us considering the merits between a tech company and a car company when it comes to the actual autonomous technology and which companies should have their name on the vehicles. Because both Apple and Google were attempting to enter the same space the question was which one would get there first and which one would actually be able to experience the success expected by these companies.
Suddenly, it seemed there was upheaval and overturn at Apple and we no longer saw this company as the one that was building a car to head out on the road and drive autonomously. There were rumors of layoffs and several leaders in the company that wanted to close down the part of the company responsible for the development of the hardware of actually building a car that can drive itself. One these actions began, it felt like Apple was out of the game and wouldn’t have much to add to the possibility of an autonomous driving vehicle on the road.
Now, there is a new list that was recently published which shows that Apple has applied for and been granted a permit to test self-driving cars in California. As the most autonomous-friendly state in existence right now California has been granting test permits to nearly every company that has applied for them over the past few years. The fact that Apple now shows up on this list reopens the rumors of the company offering us an autonomous driving vehicle in the future to give us what we want to talk about, which is the future of the automotive industry.
The original goal Apple shared was a desire to have an electric car that was able to drive itself on the road by 2019, but that expectation changed when the company appeared to have changed gears and was no longer looking to offer an autonomous car on the road at all. While we may not know what the goal of Apple is right now it’s nice to know they’re still interested in developing the autonomous technology that could be used in cars, even if these cars aren’t their own, but with this new permit, they just might be.
No none knows who will make it to the finish line first with actual autonomous vehicles for sale to the public, but the fact that it feels like Apple is back in the game is a huge step forward and will make it much easier for us to enjoy the discussion with more tech companies than we’ve had in a while. Whether we’ll see and Apple iCar of the future on the road or the company will simple develop some of the software needed isn’t known yet, but having this permit in hand will help us enjoy the discussion and the race.