We may be a little farther down the road toward Apple getting into the car business.
According to a report from The Guardian, Apple last month met with representatives from the California Department of Motor Vehicles to discuss plans for testing an autonomous vehicle on public roads. This would be yet another sign that the company, generally known for its consumer electronics, is working on some sort of self-driving technology.
That's a hot area of investigation for both automakers and tech companies. Google has long been working on self-driving cars, and its prototype has been out on California roads in recent months. Ride-hailing company Uber also has taken an interest.
Speculation abouthas been burbling for some time, but the company has not made any pronouncements about what, if anything, it might be doing. Apple was not immediately available for comment on the report from the Guardian.
California law requires that any car able to operate "without the active physical control or monitoring by a human operator" must be registered with the state before it can be tested on public roads. This does not include active driver assists like automated parking or adaptive cruise control, so if Apple has taken this step, we're likely talking about a properly self-driving car.
Beyond the registration, California requires active reporting of testing information to the state. This includes miles covered in testing and, along the way, the number of times a human driver had to disengage the vehicle's automated systems and take the wheel themselves. Google has been very forthcoming in its reporting of miles, and even crashes, as it develops its own fleet of autonomous vehicles. However, the need to share this much information with the state definitely goes against Apple's typically secretive development process.
Google recently confirmed that it is not interested in becoming a vehicle manufacturer itself, but Apple's long-term plans here remain a mystery.