Apple plans to do to cars what it did to mobile phones.

The last we heard, Apple was ditching the idea of making self-driving cars to focus on self-driving technology only. And now, Apple has obtained an official permit to test self-driving cars in California - and it suggests the iPhone maker really does plan to reinvent century-old automobiles, sort of how it took mobile phones and reinvented them into the modern-day smartphone we all carry in our pockets.

As spotted by Business Insider, California's Department of Motor Vehicles updated its website last week, adding Apple and 29 other companies to its registry of firms that are actively testing self-driving vehicles in the state. Google is another tech giant on the list. The permit seems to confirm that Apple is definitely developing self-driving car technology, and it plans to test it on Lexus vehicles.

Any manufacturer of autonomous technology must apply to the California DMV before it can test a vehicle. On 14 April, California issued Apple an a permit that covers three vehicles - all 2015 Lexus RX450h SUVs - and six drivers. Apple confirmed that it was granted the permit, and it pointed to an old statement it made about heavily investing in "machine learning and autonomous systems".

Apple reportedly has a secret unit of 1,000 employees working on what it has dubbed "Project Titan" in Sunnyvale, California. For years now, the unit has been developing self-driving technology, but last year, it brought on Bob Mansfield, an longtime Apple executive and engineer, to scale back and set new goals. Apple is thought to have ditched the idea of a full-fledged self-driving car as a result.

You can read more about Project Titan from Pocket-lint's round-up.

Sections Apple Cars