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Apple Reportedly Leasing 6 Cars from Hertz for Driverless Testing

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【Summary】Just hours after Google partners with rental car company Avis for self-driving car testing, Apple follows the trend by leasing a small fleet of vehicles from Hertz for self-driving tests as well, Bloomberg reported.

Original Claire    Jun 27, 2017 1:37 PM PT
Apple Reportedly Leasing 6 Cars from Hertz for Driverless Testing

Just hours after Google partners with rental car company Avis for self-driving car testing, Apple follows the trend by leasing a small fleet of vehicles from Hertz for self-driving tests as well, Bloomberg reported.

The number of cars from Hertz that Apple will borrow from is originally reported as three, but later revised by CNBC quoting an insider's source that it will be six. The car models are Lexus RX450h SUVs leased from Donlen, a Hertz-owned fleet management company.

The rental car company's shares soared 18% to two-year high of $10.83, the biggest increase since July 2015.

The news was dug out by Bloomberg through recent documents released by the California Department of Motor Vehicles. Apple received its self-driving test permit in April to test three autonomous vehicles, with the documents listing Donlen as the lessor and Apple as the lessee.

Apple declined to comment regarding the matter. While an insider familiar with Apple's "Project Titan" told Bloomberg earlier this year that the company has been testing a half-dozen autonomous vehicles on public roads in and around the San Francisco Bay area for at least a year.

The tech giant has remained quite secretive about its self-driving project until recently, when Apple CEO Tim Cook revealed for the first time that the company is working on autonomous technology, and called it "the mother of all AI projects".

apple_tim_cook.jpg

For the past year, rumours surfaced occasionally about Apple's shrinking budget and headcount on Project Titan, and also the question of whether the tech giant will be making a driverless car or only its "brain" system. Veteran executive Bob Mansfield was appointed to the team for the cutting and redirection of Apple's autonomous car ambition.

Also this week, Google Waymo announced on Monday that it will partner with Avis Budget Group to deploy the rental car company's 600 vehicles for self-driving test in Phoenix, Arizona. Avis will provide services such as secure parking, oil changing, cleaning and tire rotations as part of the agreement. The cooperation was seen by many as a second blow to Uber after Waymo's partnership with Lyft, and also a possible trend of tying driverless technology with car rental companies.

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