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Apple scouted a testing location for its self-driving car

Unearthed documents note an active hunt for a secure testing site for autonomous vehicles

If the mounting pile of evidence that Apple has a not-so-secret car project in development wasn’t enough to convince you, maybe this will do the trick: The Guardian has obtained public documents that show that Apple is seeking a test site for a self-driving car.

GoMentum Station in Concord, California is a publicly operated test site for autonomous vehicles, and it used to be a U.S. Navy weapons station – so it’s plenty big, offering 20 miles of roadway in a secured location. Given the proximity to Silicon Valley (it’s just over an hour’s drive away), it’s surely a target for other would-be players in the industry.

Considering that the location is under lock and key, it’s no surprise that Apple wants to use it for testing. The Guardian filed a public records request to obtain correspondence between Apple engineer Frank Fearon and site representatives, which reveals a desire to schedule testing time at GoMentum and work around testing being done by potential rival carmakers.

“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 would be using [it],” wrote Fearon. He also asked for a presentation on the location and how it could be used.

Randy Iwasaki, executive director of the Contra Costa Transportation Authority, which oversees the GoMentum Station, said, "We had to sign a non-disclosure agreement with Apple. We can’t tell you anything other than they’ve come in and they’re interested."

Reports about Apple’s "Titan" project began surfacing in February of this year, noting that the company had a minivan-like car project in the works with former car company employees heading the project. Apple has hired away other car industry veterans since, and recently, we heard that Apple visited BMW to discuss basing the design on the maker’s i3 electric vehicle.

A proper unveiling and release for an Apple-made self-driving electric car is surely years out still, but if the company is on the verge of testing a prototype, then it may not be as far off as we expected. We’ll let you know as more details pop up.

[Source: The Guardian]