Apple really are working on a self-driving car

apple-car-image-01Rumours about a secret Apple initiative to build a self-driving electric car, known by the codename Project Titan have been doing the rounds for some time now, with no evidence to back them up. Until now that is: Correspondence obtained by the Guardian reveal Apple engineer Frank Fearon, a member of Apple’s ultra-secretive “Special Projects” team has been in contact with officials from GoMentum Station, an autonomous vehicle testing facility on the site of a former naval base near San Francisco, with a view to using their facilities.

The Guardian quotes Fearon as writing “We would … like to get an understanding of timing and availability for the space, and how we would need to coordinate around other parties who would be using [it].” GoMentum station is 40 miles from Silicon valley which would make it an ideal off-road testing facility with it’s 20 miles of roads to test a potential car in secret away from the general public.

Fearon went on to write: “We are hoping to see a presentation on the … testing grounds with a layout, photos, and a description of how the various areas of the grounds could be used.” GoMentum Station’s empty roads have everyday features you would expect to find in the real world including overpasses and tunnels, cattle grids and railway crossings.

These would allow Apple to test driverless vehicles in a number of realistic everyday scenarios without revealing technical information about the car- which is a requirement for a permit to be issued by the California department of motor vehicles in order to test self-driving cars on the road.

GoMentum Station

Ex-naval testing site GoMentum Station from the air

GoMentum as you would expect, have had to sign a non-disclosure agreement about the project, but they did say “We can’t tell you anything other than they’ve come in and they’re interested.”

These new documents and Apple’s recent auto-industry headhunting (hiring engineers from the likes of Tesla, Mercedes-Benz, and electric car battery manufacturer A123 Systems) seem to support the rumours about Apple’s auto ambitions.

Apple, naturally, declined to comment.

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