Apple Car speculation heats up – hunt for test facility is on

Caitlin McGarry
17 August, 2015
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Apple, car, rumours, macworld australiaApple is rumoured to be developing a self-driving car, but this isn’t just a distant dream. The company may be testing a prototype as we speak.

The Guardian dug up documents revealing that Apple is looking for a facility to test its car – preferably one with high levels of security. The company reached out to executives at GoMentum Station, a 850-hectare (2100-acre) test facility on what was once the Concord Naval Weapons Station not far from San Francisco in the US. The station, which is guarded by the military, is closed to the public and used by other companies to test similar self-driving vehicles.

Apple engineer Frank Fearon communicated with Jack Hall, GoMentum’s program manager for autonomous vehicles, about Apple’s potential use of the facility in May. Those letters were turned over to The Guardian as part of a public records act request.

“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 the facility,” Fearon wrote, according to The Guardian.

Why this matters: Rumours of Apple’s car project, codenamed Project Titan according to various reports, have been swirling for months, but the extent of the company’s progress on the project was unknown. Now it seems like Cupertino has more than just plans to build a car: It likely has a car ready to test.

All signs point to Apple Car

So far, all we knew of Apple’s vision for the future of automobiles is its executives are interested in electric cars – interested enough to hire electric car battery experts from A123 Systems, Tesla engineers and car company executives like former Fiat Chrysler global quality chief Doug Betts. Tim Cook also reportedly took a tour around BMW’s headquarters last year to learn more about its i3 electric vehicle.

All of that indicates that Apple could be developing a car. But the documents obtained by The Guardian indicate the company is much closer to realising its dreams than previously thought.

“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,” Fearon wrote to Hall, according to The Guardian.

The Contra Costa Transportation Authority, which owns GoMentum Station, confirmed to The Guardian that Apple has approached the facility, but that a non-disclosure agreement is in place. Of course.

An Apple spokesperson told Macworld that the company declines to comment on rumour and speculation.

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