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Will Apple cars hit the roads?

The California technology colossus behind the iPhone has confirmed its interest in self-driving cars, but experts are trying to deduce the secretive company’s plans for traction in a market where others have been speeding along.

Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, who died in 2011, contemplated putting the company’s hardware and software smarts to work in a car nearly a decade ago, according to reports in trade press.

Speculation about an Apple Car became the stuff of myth, with much talk and little evidence until recently. In mid-June, Apple chief executive Tim Cook revealed that the company is focusing on software that powers self-driving vehicles, referring to it as “by far the most important project in artificial intelligence.”

Cook depicted electric vehicles, self-driving cars, and ride-sharing as major forces shaping the future of the automobile. Analysts said that driverless cars that can be summoned on demand to whisk people where they wish when they want represent a gigantic potential market opportunity.

Even before Cook’s public remarks on the topic, clues were coming to light. Apple recently obtained a permit from the California Department of Motor Vehicles to test self-driving cars.

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