The rumours about Apple building a self-driving car have persisted but so far we’ve only had theories and mock designs, rather than any actual evidenceÃ‚Â of anything concrete.
The Guardian has got hold of correspondence between Apple engineer Frank Fearon and officials from a car testing facility GoMentum Station.
“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],” the newspaper quotes Fearon as writing. The note was sent in May.
GoMentum Station is in Concord, a city a good 30 minutes’ drive north west from San Francisco.
It’s a facility specifically set up to test driverless car technology. There’s 20 miles or so of road which recreates some real-world scenarios. This video from Honda gives you a good insight into the place.
While the letter doesn’t tell us too much about Apple’s car ambitions it does at least offer, for the first time, some concrete evidence that plans are in motion.
Until now, we’d only known that Apple had hired a couple of car industry experts into its ranks, apparently working on something called “Project Titan” – although this has never been confirmed by Apple.
So the letters from Fearon – himself an autonomous vehicle expert – to GoMentum Station at least lends some credibility to the rumours.
“We are hoping to see a presentation on the … testing grounds with a layout, photos, and a description of how the various areas of the grounds could be used,” the letter reads.
GoMentum are, naturally, under a strict non-disclosure agreement about the project, but they did confirm to the Guardian that Apple are “interested”.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“We had to sign a non-disclosure agreement with Apple,Ã¢â‚¬Â says Randy Iwasaki, executive director of the Contra Costa Transportation Authority, owner of GoMentum Station.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“We canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t tell you anything other than theyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve come in and theyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re interested.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Car makers are understandably keeping a close eye on things but whatever the approach, it’s safe to say we won’t find out much more until Apple is absolutely ready. GoMentum, in keeping with its military roots, has armed guards stations at the facility 24 hours a day.
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