A new report points to evidence that the Apple’s secret car project may be about to enter its initial test stages.
The Guardian has obtained a set of correspondence under a public record request law, which confirms that Apple is working on a top-secret automotive project. In the documents is an email trail between an Apple engineer, Frank Fearon, and the managers of GoMentum Station.
In the emails seen by the newspaper, Fearon asks the Station’s operators about “timing and availability for the space, and how we would need to coordinate around other parties who would be using [the Station]”.
Just outside of San Francisco, GoMentum Station is situated on a 850 hectare site that used to house a naval base and comes complete with around 32 kilometres of paved roads, including a disused section of highway, as well as buildings, road grids and other common bits of urban infrastructure.
Now run by the government of Contra Costa County, the location is currently leased out to companies looking to test advanced car technology, including vehicle-to-vehicle communication and autonomous cars. The site reportedly guarded by military patrols, is around 100km from Silicon Valley, and has already been used by Honda, amongst others.
Other companies, such as Audi and Google, have already begun testing self-driving vehicles on public roads. This, however, requires registering with the relevant state governments, and at this stage Apple might place greater value on secrecy over real-world testing.
A report earlier this year indicated that Apple currently has several hundred employees working on an automotive programme under the working title Project Titan. The team is currently being housed in a unmarked facility around eight kilometres away from the main Apple campus.
Apple’s automotive team is allegedly lead by a former Ford product designer, and recently acquired a 28-year veteran of the automobile industry.
It’s believed that Apple’s car project centres around a self-driving electric vehicle. The company is alleged to have had contact with companies involved in automobile engineering and contract manufacturing.
Cover image: Apple Store Bahnhofstrasse Zurich by Flickr user Niels Epting.