There are now 30 companies testing 202 self-driving cars on California’s public roads, following a decision by the California Department of Motor Vehicles to license Apple Inc. to begin testing 3 self-driving sport utility vehicles (SUVs).
With California as the national leader in autonomous (self-driving) vehicle development, Apple is joining an already crowed field of licensed driverless test cars — including 79 at Google Auto, 27 at GM Cruise, 24 at Tesla Motors and 15 at Uber UATC.
As Breitbart News recently reported, Silicon Valley is the state’s hot spot, with 11 corporate autonomous vehicle tech centers, each spending spectacular amounts of money in the 15 miles that separate Apple and Stanford University.
On March 10, the state opened the 45-day public comment period for its proposed regulations regarding the testing and licensing of autonomous vehicles. Shortly thereafter, California Governor Jerry Brown’s Business and Economic Development Office granted $8 million in tax credits to GM Cruise Automation for committing to spend $14 million to create 1,100 new jobs at its Silicon Valley autonomous and zero-emission research center.
GM CEO Mary Barra said in a press release: “Self-driving technology holds enormous benefits to society in the form of increased safety and access to transportation.” She added, “Running our autonomous vehicle program as a start-up is giving us the speed we need to continue to stay at the forefront of development of these technologies and the market applications.”
In February 2015, Breitbart News noted that within 24 hours of Tesla CEO Elon Musk announcing that the company was offering to open-source its patent portfolio, Apple leaked that the company had been actively recruiting Tesla staff by offering $250,000 starting bonuses and 60 percent pay bumps to jump to Apple. According to LinkedIn postings, at least 60 former Tesla employees were already on Apple’s payroll.
With Apple rated as the most valuable brand in the world, Breitbart News speculated that the economics behind Apple’s secretive iCar project, codenamed “Titan,” presented an overwhelmingly favorable opportunity for Apple to enter the race to develop autonomous vehicles. But ever since, Apple has remained very secretive about Titan and there have only been a few sightings of vehicles registered to Apple that are equipped with the type of sensors and cameras that are common on autonomous (self-driving) cars.
The DMV’s approval for Apple’s autonomous tests also disclosed a November 22, 2016 letter from Apple to the Washington, D.C. headquarters of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The letter followed the Obama administration’s decision, two months before the 2016 elections, superseding the states’ authority to set autonomous vehicle product safety, testing and road-ready rules. Under the Federal Automated Vehicles Policy, states are restricted to setting licensing, liability and insurance regulation requirements.
Apple told the NHTSA that it uses machine learning to make its “products and services smarter, more intuitive, and more personal.” Because of this innovation expertise, Apple stated that the company is investing heavily in the study of the “potential of automated systems in many areas, including transportation.” Apple requested that the NHTSA “explore new tools and authorities” that could further weaken the states’ control of self-driving vehicles.