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Apple receives autonomous-car testing permit in California

Oh, great -- more fuel for the "Apple Car" fire.

The Apple logo is displayed at a store in the central business district of Sydney on April 6, 2017. Apple was on April 6 taken to court by Australia's consumer watchdog for violating laws by allegedly refusing to look at or repair some iPads and iPhones previously serviced by a third party. / AFP PHOTO / PETER PARKS (Photo credit should read PETER PARKS/AFP/Getty Images)
Peter Parks/AFP/Getty Images

Whether or not you think it's working on a car, Apple's new autonomous-car permit in California is certainly proof of something related to self-driving vehicles.

According to the California Department of Motor Vehicles website, Apple is the latest company to receive a permit to test autonomous vehicles within the state. It follows a number of automakers, suppliers and other companies, including Uber, Bosch, Mercedes-Benz, Faraday Future and Tesla.

You weren't expecting a picture of an Apple Car, were you?

Gabrielle Lurie/AFP/Getty Images

While it's not clear what Apple has up its sleeve, something must be there, because the application process for this permit isn't exactly short. Not only do companies need insurance and basic things like that, but also they must include an outline for operator training and registration information for all vehicles used for testing.

There's no guarantee that this means Apple is building an autonomous car. In fact, it almost certainly isn't -- at least for now. According to Tim Bradshaw from the Financial Times, Apple's DMV permit covers three Lexus RX450h crossovers, which is the same model that Waymo used for development when it was still lumped under the Google banner. It certainly won't keep the "Apple is building a car" rumor mill from operating at top speed for the next few days or months, though.

Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but it declined comment to Business Insider and claimed that the company has already discussed investing in autonomy.

Apple's project won't be as secret as some of its other programs. Part of California's autonomous-vehicle laws require each manufacturer to submit accident and disengagement reports, the latter explaining when and why vehicles cede control to the driver.