Cupertino Company Apple has been secretly working on self-driving electric cars in Silicon Valley. The secret project had been codenamed Project Titan. Apple has been in talks with officials in the San Francisco Bay area to test the cars. The engineers had met officials from GoMentum Station in May this year. The station is a 2100-acre old Concord naval weapons base near San Francisco, which is being turned into a secure testing ground for autonomous vehicles.
Claimed to be the largest secure testing facility in the world, GoMentum run by the Contra Costa Transportation Authority that’s located in the East Bay has already been a home to Mercedes-Benz and Honda for carrying out experiments with self-driving cars. This is the first time a plan of self-driving cars being developed by Apple has been documented. These reports were obtained from a Freedom of Information Act request.
According to reports, Apple’s autonomous cars are almost ready for the road with engineers working on the project in an anonymous office at Sunnyvale close to the Cupertino campus. A clue about this had been dropped by Apple senior vice-president Jeff Williams when he called the car “the ultimate mobile device” and had talked about exploration of different markets to make a huge difference. In addition to this, Apple CEO Tim Cook has been holding meetings with car executives along with Sergio Marchionne of Fiat-Chrysler.
Apple has been recruiting experts in the automotive industry from Silicon Valley and other areas, hiring power experts from electric car battery maker A123 Systems as well as engineers from Tesla Motors and Mercedes-Benz. Last year, Cook had visited BMW’s i3 electric car assembly line in Germany and rumored to have considered it as the base for Apple Car, but the discussions did not suggest any partnership.
The company wants to test its vehicles in the GoMentum station strictly because it does not want to reveal specific details. The California department of motor vehicles has issued permits to Google, Tesla, Volkswagen and Mercedes-Benz among other car manufacturers to test their vehicles on public roads. However, this requires the revelation of technical and commercial details which is against Apple’s policy.
The discussion end here. There are disagreements on whether the cars are self-driving or not. While The Wall Street Journal states that Apple’s cars are electric but not autonomous, Reuters suggests that Project Titan also includes self-driving cars. The owner of GoMentum station, Randy Iwasaki stated that they have signed a non-disclosure agreement with Apple; hence no insights are available from that source.
The buzz is that the tech giant plans to launch the Apple Car by 2020 to give it five years of development. Although the vehicle is still in its testing phase, there is a possibility that it may never be launched at all as it has been observed that there have been products Apple has never launched even after testing them for years.