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DRIVERLESS cars: Apple ups the ante with meeting in California

Crash of the Titans unlikely – there's actually a DRIVER in there

The “is Apple building a car?” rumour mill has received added grist with the news that Apple execs have been meeting Californian legislators responsible for self-driving cars.

The Apple car project is believed to be called “Project Titan”.

The Guardian reports that Apple’s legal eagle Mike Maletic had an hour long meeting with the California Department of Motor vehicles.

The meeting, on 17 August, was with Bernard Soriano (former CIO to the California Secretary of State, and considered the experts' expert on self-driving cars), Stephanie Dougherty and Brian Soublet, who have all worked on regulation.

Dougherty is the current head of enterprise planning and performance at the California Department of Motor Vehicles.

Negotiations are likely to have focused on the 2012 California Senate Bill 1298, which authorised the California Department of Motor Vehicles to develop regulations for the testing and operation of autonomous vehicles on California’s public roadways. The bill separates testing from operation. A DMV source confirmed to The Register that Apple does not currently have a testing permit.

The regulations for a permit (which lasts one year) for testing require $5m in insurance, bond, or self-insurance. The test drivers must not have had a driving under the influence (DUI) conviction or an at-fault accident, and must have no more than one point on their licence.

All drivers must complete a test driver training program, and must be seated in the driving seat during testing. The company testing must report any accident within 10 days and report unanticipated disengagement of autonomous technology.

The companies which already have Californian permits are Volkswagen, Audi, Mercedes Benz, Google, Delphi, Bosch, Tesla and Nissan.

If Apple does enter the car market it will put the company in direct competition with customers who licence Carplay software. Not that Carplay has been very successful – the major brands offering it in Europe are Ferrari (which only has it on the California T) and Hyundai (limited models). ®

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