The rumors are true: Apple is building a self-driving car, according to papers just obtained by The Guardian. Apple has secret offices focused on the iCar’s development, located in an unmarked building several miles from its headquarters. Meanwhile, Apple executives are looking for places to test the car near Silicon Valley and they are focusing in on an old military base, GoMentum Station. Although Apple’s news is exciting, it is several years behind competitors like Google and Tesla. Google already has an autonomous car that is being tested on public roads.
Here’s what you need to know.
1. New Documents Confirm The Existence of the Car, Codenamed Project Titan
New documents just obtained have confirmed the car’s existence, according to The Guardian. The car, codenamed Project Titan, is already nearing the testing phase. Apple has not yet commented. According to documents obtained by The Guardian, the program manager for autonomous vehicles, Jack Hall, postponed a meeting in late May with Apple engineer Frank Fearon, but said he would still like to meet for a tour of the facility soon. The department working on the car is currently housed in an anonymous building several miles from Apple’s main campus, according to the documents.
2. The Car May Be Tested at a Former Naval Base
Apple is looking at testing the car at the GoMentum Station, a former Concord Naval Weapons Station from World War II, near San Francisco, The Guardian reported. It’s a 2,100-acre base that will be a top secret testing ground for self-driving cars. It has city streets and 20 miles of paved highways that include overpasses, railroad crossings, and tunnels: perfect for testing new cars. Although no longer used, GoMentum Station is still closed to the public and guarded by military.
3. The Car Could Be the “Ultimate Mobile Device,” According to Apple
Jeff Williams, Apple’s senior vice president, announced in May that an Apple self-driving car would be the “ultimate mobile device” and Apple was looking at different markets.
4. Apple May Be Working with Fiat-Chryler and Other Automotive Experts
Apple is working with and recruiting numerous automotive experts. The head of Fiat-Chrysler has met with Apple. In addition, Fearon had previously helped build an autonomous paraglider at Georgia Institute of Technology. There have also been rumors that Apple may be using BMW technology in its self-driving car. Apple recently hired Doug Betts, an executive who has worked with Toyota, Nissan, and Fiat Chrysler, according to BGR. Apple also recently hired Paul Furgale, an autonomous vehicle researcher in Switzerland, along with other robotics experts, BGR reported. In late July, 9To5Mac reported that Apple had made a filing with the SEC revealing it planned to increase product development spending to $5.9 billion by the end of September.
5. Other Companies, Like Google, Are Working On And Already Testing Self-Driving Cars
Google, Uber, and other companies are already working on their own self-driving cars. In fact, Google has already been testing its self-driving cars on public roads (pictured above). The California Department of Motor Vehicles issued permits for testing self-driving cars to Google, Tesla, Mercedez-Benz, Volkswagen, and others, according to The Guardian. In addition, Apple’s not the only company to work with GoMentum Station. Google has visited the station and, according to The Guardian, Honda signed a $250,000 memorandum to begin testing self-driving cars. Tesla, meanwhile, was not welcomed at GoMentum. When Tesla Motors arrived for a tour, armed military turned them away due to the workers being foreign-born and one worker not divulging his Social Security number, The Guardian reported.