According to secret sources, the notoriously secretive Apple is secretly building a self-driving car. Lots of secrets… aren’t they? A rumour has been doing the rounds from quite a while that Apple is working on a self-driving electric car, codenamed Project Titan with hundreds of engineers secretly working on automotive technologies in an anonymous office building in Sunnyvale, four miles from its main campus in Cupertino. Last May, when engineers from Apple’s secretive Special Project group met with officials from GoMentum Station, it came to the fore that the hush-hush project is surely a car in the making.
It is to be noted that GoMentum Station is actually a disused second world-war era facility that boasts of 20 miles of paved highways and city streets. Its empty roads feature everything from highway overpasses and railway crossings to tunnels and cattle grids. This base is closed to the general public and is guarded by the military. So in a nutshell, it is the largest secure test facility in the world for the testing, validation and commercialization of connected vehicle (CV) applications and autonomous vehicles (AV) technologies. The place has been used in the past by Mercedez-Benz and Honda. So when Apple officials met GoMentum officials the rumour started taking a more solid shape.
In May this year, Apple Senior Vice President Jeff Williams had hinted by calling the car “the ultimate mobile device” and that they were “exploring a lot of different markets”. Presently Google, Uber and other tech companies are doling out huge chunks of money into robot cars.
So this move doesn’t come as a surprise. Other developments like Apple CEO Tim Cook attending a series of meetings with car executives in recent months; Cook meeting Fiat-Chrysler boss Sergio Marchionne; the company recruiting automotive experts from Silicon Valley and beyond; hiring engineers from Tesla Motors and Mercedes-Benz; as well as power experts from electric car battery maker A123 Systems; all confirm that the rumour is no longer a rumour but a solid fact. Another important thing is that Google, Volkswagen, Tesla, Mercedez-Benz and several other carmakers have been issued permits by the California department of motor vehicles to test self-driving cars on the state’s public roads. But that process requires disclosing technical and commercial details, something that the notoriously secretive Apple might not want. So the talks of Apple using the GoMentum facility started doing the rounds.
Randy Iwasaki, executive director of the Contra Costa Transportation Authority, owner of GoMentum Station doesn’t divulge much but says: “We had to sign a non-disclosure agreement with Apple. We can’t tell you anything other than they’ve come in and they’re interested.”
After this news, we will just have to wait and watch… as to when the Titan arrives!!