Documents obtained by the Guardian reveal that Apple execs have discussed plans for an “autonomous vehicle” with the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). According to these documents, Apple’s senior legal counsel, Mike Maletic, had an hour-long meeting with the DMV’s deputy director, chief of strategic planning Stephanie Dougherty, and department deputy director and chief counsel Brian Soublet.
The information comes amid rumours of Apple hiring hundreds of employees to work on an electric vehicle. Although the department did not go into details of what was discussed during the meeting, it did say that the topic was “to review [the DMV’s] autonomous vehicle regulations.”
To get a clearer picture, we need to know what the DMV is responsible for:
California’s DMV is developing regulations for the eventual deployment and public operation of autonomous vehicles. These rules will establish requirements that manufacturers must meet to certify that their driverless vehicles have been successfully tested, meet safety criteria, and are ready for consumers to operate on public roads.
In other words, if Apple wants to test autonomous vehicles on public roads – others already do – it will need an Autonomous Vehicle Testing Permit from the California DMV. That will also mean that it will likely need to “sacrifice” its legendary preference for secrecy, since manufacturers need to detail the make, model, and VIN (vehicle identification number) of the cars they want to test, alongside sharing autonomous features and capabilities.
With Apple approaching the DMV, the vehicle is almost ready for public view, the report suggests. The office and lab where Project Titan is taking place seems to be located in Sunnyvale and codenamed SG05.