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Apple Eyes Autonomous Car Market, Gets Permit for Test Drive

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As per the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMW) in the state of California, Apple Inc AAPL has secured a permit to test self-driving vehicles. The permit is for test driving three vehicles (2015 Lexus RX450h models) with two drivers each, adds DMW. 

For long, there has been tremendous speculation about Apple’s autonomous car technology development efforts, which is apparently codenamed, Project Titan. As usual, Apple has refrained from commenting on the matter so far. Apple loves to maintain secrecy regarding projects it’s working on. Per media reports, on being asked about the permit, the company pointed to the Apple's director of product integrity, Steve Kenner’s letter to NHTSA, written in November last year. In the letter, Kenner said "The company is investing heavily in the study of machine learning and automation, and is excited about the potential of automated systems in many areas, including transportation." 

Self Driving Car Race Heats Up

Self driving technology has gained immense importance in the past few years with tech and auto behemoths like Apple, Alphabet GOOGL, Ford F, Tesla Inc TSLA, Volkswagen AG, Daimler AG, Uber and Lyft directing resources to develop this technology.

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Most recently, Intel Corp expanded into this space with the acquisition of Israel based driver assistance technology company, Mobileye N.V. MBLY for a whopping $15.3 billion. In Jan this year, Daimler AG collaborated with Uber Technologies to supply autonomous parts.

Last year, Samsung, the Korean tech giant, and Apple’s biggest rival in the smartphone space, has scooped up Harman International for $8 billion. Harman is a leading name in the automotive space. Meanwhile, General Motors snapped up Cruise Automation for $581 million. Cruise Automation is a startup engaged in developing autonomous vehicle software.

Moreover, the company pumped $500 million in Lyft, to develop autonomous electric taxis. In Dec 2016, NVIDIA was granted a permit to test self-driving vehicle technology by the DMW.

Autonomous car technology is emerging as a big business opportunity. According to Boston Consulting Group estimates, the autonomous car market will be worth $42 billion by 2025 and $77 billion by 2035. Per Statista, the market for fully autonomous vehicles will grow to almost $6 billion while partially autonomous vehicles market will reach $36 billion by 2025.. However, analysts are sceptical about self driving cars being feasible before 2020, at least.

Zacks Rank and Stock Price Movement

Currently, Apple has a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

Over the past year, shares of Apple have registered growth of 31.23% compared with the Zacks categorized Computer Mini industry’s gain of 30.83%.

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