One big sign the Apple self-driving car is closer than we thought

Apple may finally be ready to talk about its self-driving car project.

The tech giant reportedly met with three officials from California’s Department of Motor Vehicles last month to discuss its plans for autonomous vehicles.

According to a report from The Guardian Friday, Apple legal counsel Mike Maletic had an hour long meeting with the Bernard Soriano, the DMV’s deputy director, Stephanie Dougherty, the department’s chief of enterprise planning and performance, and Brian Soublet, who is the DMV’s deputy director and chief legal counsel.

Why is this significant? Because to test autonomous vehicles on public roads in California, Apple must obtain a permit from the DMV, which means it will have to begin revealing a lot more information about its plans in the self-driving car space.

Apple’s secret car project, which is dubbed “Project Titan,” has been in the works for a while. But the company has managed to keep any development primarily under wraps except for a few reports about it looking to test its tech.

Last month, documents obtained by The Guardian revealed the company had inquired about using a former military facility known for autonomous testing in May of this year. Despite the report, the company has kept tight lipped.

On Tuesday, Apple CEO Tim Cook was flat out asked about the company’s plans for autonomous vehicles during a guest appearance on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert,” but Cook kept mum.

“We look at a number of things along the way, and we decide to really put our energies in a few of them,” Cook said regarding the matter.

While Apple may be putting some energy into the technology, the company has not yet begun testing on public streets.

There are currently 10 companies — including Google, Tesla, and BMW — in California that have been issued Autonomous Vehicle Testing Permits, according to the DMV’s website, which updates the page as more manufacturer’s gain approval.

The last company to be approved to test the tech was Honda. Apple is not currently one of the companies listed as having a permit. However, the fact that the company is meeting with the DMV may mean it’s technology is far enough along that it is ready to go public with its self-driving car plans.

If Apple acquires a permit it will be required to disclose a good amount of information about its cars.

To acquire a testing permit for public streets, the DMV requires companies to have well-trained test drivers with a clean driving record in the vehicle at all times. The department also requires the make,model and other information be shared to acquire a permit. Apple will also have to report any accident or automation malfunction to the department within ten days of the incident.

California is one of a handful of states that have enacted laws to test automated vehicles. Florida, Michigan, Virginia, the District of Columbia, and Nevada have all also created a framework that specifically addresses the testing of autonomous cars.

Tech Insider reached out to Apple and California’s DMV for comment and will update when we get a response.

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