On Friday, April 14, California's DMV updated their webpage on Testing of Autonomous Vehicles, officially adding Apple's name to the list of companies allowed to test autonomous vehicles in the State.
This week, Apple was granted a permit for the testing of its autonomous vehicle, or self-drive auto, in California.
Patrick Moorhead, an analyst with Moor Insights & Strategy, said, "This [the permit] absolutely verifies that they are going to do something in this space".
Though no specific start date is known at this time, Apple soon will begin testing its autonomous tech in three 2015 Lexus RF450h SUVs, according to Bloomberg. The state agency didn't provide any additional information related to the permit.
Apple reps didn't respond to requests for comment.
Traditional automakers such as GM, Ford, Honda and Mercedes-Benz also have permits to test their models on California's roads. In a letter sent to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in November past year, Apple's director of product integrity Steve Kenner acknowledged the company's interest in self-driving technology.More news: Chelsea icon Didier Drogba becomes player, owner of Phoenix Rising (Official Video)
So, Apple's vision for autonomous systems clearly extends beyond transportation, but for now, they appear to be getting ready to burn some rubber (um, hopefully not) in California with their latest self-driving software.
In terms of timelines, you'd have to argue Apple is a long way behind the eight ball here - Google for example has been developing this technology for a very long time, Tesla have got vehicles on the road of their own making running live and development technology.
It also fits with Apple making its own auto.
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.
According to USA Today, Apple has been rumored to have aspirations of working on driverless vehicle technology for quite a while now. Apple never confirmed the existence of Titan, which is now believed to be dead.
My personal guess would be that Apple is working towards the development of complete self-driving vehicle tech + vehicle operating systems - in other words, towards development of Apple-branded self-driving vehicle operating systems and hardware.