These days if there's research being done into something vaguely technological, you can bet Apple is hiding in the shadows doing some ultra-secret version of it for itself. The rumour mill has long suspected that that also included self-driving cars, and now documents obtained by The Guardian seem to confirm that.
We already knew Apple was doing something car-related, codenamed Titan, but we didn't know exactly what it was. Some rumours suggested that it was another self-driving car, but others suggested it was a regular car that ran on electricity. The Guardian's documents, obtained by a public records request, confirm that the self-driving car is in development and that Apple is actively scouting locations in Silicon Valley to test them.
The prime location appears to be GoMentum Station, a 2,100 acre former Naval base near San Francisco that's already being turned into a testing facility for autonomous vehicles. According to the Guardian's documents, engineers from Apple Secret Project group met with officials from GoMentum Station to inquire about the logistics of testing their own cars there, and how it would be co-ordinated with other companies.
GoMentum Station is an ideal location for testing, since it has over 20 miles of streets and roadways that are all sealed off from the public and guarded by military officials. According to officials, it's the largest secure test facility in the world and is already used by Mercedes and Honda. So it's hardly surprising that Apple is looking into its use. We've all seen that testing mysterious cars on public roads only causes people to start poking their noises around to work out what's going on.
Apple apparently declined to comment on the content of the documents, and Randy Iwasaki, executive director of GoMentum Station's owner Contra Costa Transportation Authority, claims that a non-disclosure agreement prevents the company from revealing any details other than the fact Apple is interested in the site.
Sadly, while we now know that the self-driving car is real, we don't know anything about what it might include. I suppose it's safe to assume that it'll probably have a CarPlay system installed, right? [The Guardian]