China's Didi Chuxing to Test Self-Driving Cars in California

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This is pretty much what all its rivals have been doing as well, but in Apple's case the brand may never progress to the point where it'll be building its own self-driving electric vehicle. In March this year, that number was at 45.

The new figures show that Apple still has the second-largest autonomous-car test fleet in California, which is arguably the epicenter of self-driving vehicle research. In May, Apple got permits for 10 more self-driving vehicles, according to Mac Reports.

A newest list posted on DMV's website showed 53 pieces of Autonomous Vehicle Testing Permits (with a driver) had been permitted as of last Thursday, Xinhua reported on Monday.

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Apple has so far been using Lexus RX450h sports utility cars equipped with LIDAR tech and a bunch of cameras, rather than an actual automobile it designed from the ground up.

Apple has 83 drivers under its permits, which is fewer than General Motors, Waymo and Tesla.

Apple has been secretly working on its own self-driving auto program for years, but during that time it hasn't shared much information about the project. That gives it the second-largest fleet in the US, ahead of Waymo's 51 cars, but still well behind GM Cruise, which boasts 104. Tesla had slightly more drivers than Apple at 92, but fewer vehicles at 39. Uber previously operated a sizable fleet of self-driving cars in California, but its testing program has been suspended in the wake of a fatal crash in Arizona. But building an entire self-driving vehicle fleet from the ground up proved too hard. After starting with a secret operation to build a self-driving vehicle codenamed Project Titan in 2014, the project fell apart in two years. In June that year, Apple CEO Tim Cook said Apple was working on developing the autonomous-driving software, which will be added to existing auto models rather than building a self-driving vehicle from scratch.