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The Apple Car might be appearing sooner than we thought

The Apple Car seems to have filled the rumor vacuum left by this year’s unveiling of the Apple Watch — it’s the new, mythical product that we’re not sure is ever going to make an appearance. We haven’t had any confirmation from Apple that such a vehicle is in the pipeline, but there have been enough leaked reports to suggest the Cupertino company is working on something to do with automobiles.

Most of these leaks have suggested a grand Apple Car reveal is many years down the line, but a new report in The Guardian counters that idea. It says Apple’s vehicle could be “almost ready for public view” based on a meeting between company executives and officials from the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). The logic is that if Apple is applying for a self-driving car permit, it’s going to need to publish details of the car itself.

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Perhaps we should’ve expected Apple’s automobile to appear sooner rather than later. The likes of Google, Uber, Nissan and many others are all making swift strides forward with their self-driving car technology, and Apple certainly has the expertise and the money to accelerate its program in a bid to keep up. Although we’ve heard plenty of speculation about the Apple Car, actual details are still thin on the ground — it could be autonomous, electric or both. Or it might just be a software system built to run on any car.

The Guardian says that California’s DMV would only confirm that a meeting with Apple did indeed take place. The agency is responsible for setting down rules and regulations for the testing of self-driving cars on the roads of California (one such regulation is that these vehicles can’t take off without a human driver ready to take over if necessary).

While this doesn’t give us many more details about “Project Titan” (the rumored name for Apple’s car project), it does suggest it’s further down the line than we thought. If Apple did want to keep its secret a little longer, it could restrict testing to a private location where permits aren’t necessary — but once its cars are out on the road, it’s going to have to go public.

[Apple Car concept image courtesy of Liviu Tudoran]