Most major manufacturers, but also many technological groups are now working on autonomous vehicles, considered with the electric as the future of the automobile, with first series productions promised around 2020. A company source told Bloomberg that autonomous vehicle testing would begin "soon", but declined to specify any further.
Many companies have said the first self-driving cars will launch in 2020, but some experts believe it may take much longer due to regulatory challenges.
In another sign of the investment in self-driving cars, GM said this week it will add more than 1,100 jobs in California over five years at its Cruise Automation unit to boost its self-driving efforts. The Cupertino firm has always been rumored to be working on a secret "Project Titan" linked to vehicles, but it never confirmed that. The list includes major automakers, including Ford, General Motors, BMW, Volkswagen and Tesla, as well as one of its biggest rivals in technology, Google, whose testing of self-driving cars has been spun off into an affiliate called Waymo.
Apple does not test a full self-driving auto.More news: Russia: Putin Explained to Tillerson Why Relations Have Deteriorated
An Apple spokesman declined to comment directly on the filing, pointing back to a statement when the company submitted its comments to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration late previous year. "Apple is investing heavily in machine learning and autonomous systems", the company said then.
Late a year ago, Apple revealed it is investing heavily in autonomous vehicles in a letter asking the government to make it easier to develop self-driving cars. Apple wants a piece of this action, but it's got a lot of competition: 29 other companies have autonomous vehicle testing permits in California.
Apple reps didn't respond to requests for comment.
"Apple is notoriously secretive about its autonomous vehicles and "Project Titan"," he said. In early 2016, CEO Tim Cook fielded a question at the company's annual shareholder meeting about developing a auto, to which he provided a cryptic response that neither confirmed nor denied the project. But a few months later, Uber filed all the appropriate paperwork anyway and is now permitted to test its technology on California roads.