Following years of speculation, the tech giant publicly acknowledges it has plans to develop “autonomous systems”.
In a letter to the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the tech giant said it was “excited about the potential of automated systems in many areas, including transportation”.
Apple director of product integrity, Steve Kenner, said the firm wanted to “help define the best practices for the industry”.
In a statement, Apple added Mr Kenner had written to NHTSA because it is “investing heavily in machine learning and autonomous systems”.
Following years of speculation, the letter is the first time Apple has publicly acknowledged it has plans to develop self-driving cars.
The company has an electric car project, codenamed Titan, which has been in the works for two years.
In September, the New York Times reported Apple had narrowed its ambitions and sacked dozens of employees as part of the project’s “reboot”.
It said those working on Titan would concentrate on developing underlying technologies for autonomous vehicles, rather than designing and producing a complete self-driving car.
However, Apple has urged NHTSA not to penalise firms testing cars on public roads.
Mr Kenner wrote: “To maximize the safety benefits of automated vehicles, encourage innovation, and promote fair competition, established manufacturers and new entrants should be treated equally.”
He called on the US highways regulator to encourage data sharing between firms “to build a more comprehensive dataset than any one company could create alone”.
Mr Kenner added: “Apple looks forward to collaborating with NHTSA and other stakeholders so that the significant societal benefits of automated vehicles can be realized safely, responsibly, and expeditiously.”