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Project Titan: Apple takes on the self-driving car

There has been industry speculation for years that Apple would take on a connected, autonomous vehicle project. Now, based on documents obtained by The Guardian, those rumors gain credence as it appears Apple is scouting locations to test a self-driving vehicle.

On Aug. 14, The Guardian reported that the documents, obtained through a public records request, showed Apple leaders in May met with the staff at GoMentum Station, a secured testing area for self-driving vehicles.

The Guardian reported that Apple engineer Frank Fearon wrote to GoMentum, “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 be using [it].”

According to the company’s website, the 5,000-acre GoMentum Station, located in Concord, Calif., is designed to support “research development, testing validation and commercialization of connected vehicle applications and autonomous vehicle technologies to define the next generation of transportation network infrastructure.”

Industry watchers, citing the documents, seem to think Apple has reached a testing phase, which means that some sort of vehicle prototype is ready to go.

Specifically, GoMentum Station Program Manager Jack Hall wrote to Fearon, “We would still like to meet in order to keep everything moving and to meet your testing schedule.”

Although Apple hasn’t weighed in on the latest development or made any public statement regarding its vehicular ambitions, the initiative has been codenamed Project Titan.

Apple SVP Jeff Williams, speaking at a conference earlier this year, hinted at the tech giant’s potential exploration of vehicles.

“The car is the ultimate mobile device,” he said. “We’re exploring lots of different markets.”

Google has made no secret about its autonomous vehicles, which the company has tested for years in California and, more recently, in Austin, Texas.

“We had to sign a nondisclosure agreement with Apple,” Randy Iwasaki, executive director of the Contra Costa Transportation Authority, owner of GoMentum Station, told The Guardian. “We can’t tell you anything other than they’ve come in and they’re interested.”

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