The permit allows it to conduct test drives in three vehicles with six drivers, the state Department of Motor Vehicles said on Friday.
Apple has secured a permit to test autonomous vehicles in California, fuelling speculation that it is working on self-driving auto technology in a crowded arena of companies hoping to offer those cars to the masses. Now, Apple sits on the list along with companies such as Ford and General Motors. Apple has been working on Project Titan for several years, but has never formally acknowledged it.
The California-based tech giant is expected to focus on software systems, letting partners manufacture vehicles, but would understandably want to be able to test its navigation technology in cars.
The secretive company that it is, little is known about the autonomous skills of Apple's software, but in a letter past year to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Apple said it was "investing heavily in the study of machine learning and automation, and is excited about the potential of automated systems in many areas, including transportation". Pictured here is an autonomous vehicle on a test run north of London.
New York City moves to allow passengers to tip Uber drivers
Uber's chief rival, Lyft , has offered the option to tip drivers in its app since it was founded in 2012. The change would be a significant one for Uber, which has avoided past calls to add electronic tipping.
In the letter, the group said that it was "enthusiastic about the potential of automated systems in many areas, including transport". The news of Apple's DMV permit ultimately doesn't do much to settle the argument.
With $246 billion in cash, Apple also could easily afford to buy technology that accelerates its development of self-driving cars. But it does indicate that the company is developing the underlying software or hardware related to autonomous driving technology.
Apple executives have been coy about their interest in cars.
Although iPhone's ongoing popularity has helped Apple remain the world's most valuable company, the company hasn't had a breakthrough product since the 2010 debut of the iPad, now in the throes of a three-year sales slump.