“Apple is building a self-driving car in Silicon Valley, and is scouting for secure locations in the Bay Area to test it, The Guardian has learned,” Mark Harris reports for The Guardian. “Documents obtained by The Guardian show the oft-rumoured Apple car project appears to be further along than many suspected.”

“In May, engineers from Apple’s secretive Special Project group met with officials from GoMentum Station, a 2,100-acre former naval base near San Francisco that is being turned into a high-security testing ground for autonomous vehicles,” Harris reports. “In correspondence obtained by The Guardian under a public records act request, Apple engineer Frank Fearon wrote: ‘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].'”

“Details of the project are still unknown but it seems that Apple has a self-driving car almost ready for the road. In late May, Jack Hall, program manager for autonomous vehicles at GoMentum Station, wrote to Fearon to postpone a tour of the facility but noted: ‘We would still like to meet in order to keep everything moving and to meet your testing schedule,'” Harris reports. “Apple has been rumoured to be working on a self-driving electric car, codenamed Project Titan, but this is the first time its existence has been documented.”

Scenes from Gomentum Station's Autonomous Vehicle Program (source: Gomentum Station website)

Scenes from Gomentum Station’s Autonomous Vehicle Program (source: Gomentum Station website)

 
“Documents seen by The Guardian reveal that Apple’s automotive team is housed in a low-profile building several miles from the company’s glamourous new Cupertino campus, which is currently under construction,” Harris reports. “The Sunnyvale building was leased in 2014, and was subsequently modified by Apple to include several lab and workshop spaces, as well as beefed-up security and access card readers, city permits show.”

“When engineers from Tesla Motors tried to tour GoMentum Station in April, armed soldiers at the base refused entry to foreign-born workers and a manager who would not divulge his social security number. ‘At this point, I’ll retract our interest in this test site until the process is worked out,’ he huffed in an email to GoMentum Station’s Jack Hall,” Harris reports. “Such high security might not suit all car makers, but Apple should feel right at home.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Well, this certainly punctuates a sleepy Friday in the middle of August!

The effort is obviously very real. Whether Apple brings anything to market or not is the question. Apple, when operating properly, will not enter a market without being able to offer something unique, something that moves the category forward. And, the company has more than enough cash to fund several such large scale exploratory projects in the works, even if most, or even all, of them never bear fruit.

When Apple looks at what categories to enter, we ask these kinds of questions: What are the primary technologies behind this? What do we bring? Can we make a significant contribution to society with this? If we can’t, and if we can’t own the key technologies, we don’t do it. That philosophy comes directly from [Steve Jobs] and it still very much permeates the place. I hope that it always will.Apple CEO Tim Cook, March 18, 2015

If Apple does make the move into vehicles, traditional vehicle makers should be very, very afraid.

BTW: The TV show Mythbusters have used the station several times testing myths involving fuel efficiency.

More info: Gomentum Station’s Autonomous Vehicle (AV) Program

SEE ALSO:
Apple Car development proceeds apace – July 27, 2015
Apple hires veteran Fiat Chrysler auto industry executive – July 20, 2015
What’s up with Carl Icahn’s sudden obsession with the Apple Car? – May 18, 2015
Survey: 77% of hybrid or electric vehicle owners would likely buy an Apple Car – May 13, 2015
Apple’s ‘Project Titan’ could reshape the auto world – February 22, 2015
Apple Car: Forget ‘electric,’ think hydrogen fuel cells – February 20, 2015
Meet Steve Zadesky, the reported leader of Apple’s ‘Project Titan’ – February 17, 2015
Forget the rumor: Apple will never build cars – February 17, 2015
The real battle Apple is waging in autos – February 17, 2015
O’Leary: Yes, give me the Apple car – February 17, 2015
Will Apple become a car maker or a platform/content aggregator? – February 17, 2015
An Apple Car is exactly what investors want – February 17, 2015
Apple’s electric car dreams may bring auto industry nightmares – February 17, 2015
Jean-Louis Gassée: The fantastic Apple Car is a fantasy – February 16, 2015
Apple is already positioned to be a car company in many ways – February 16, 2015
Why Tim Cook would want to build an Apple Car – February 14, 2015
Apple working on self-driving electric car, source says – February 14, 2015
Apple’s project ‘Titan’ gears up to challenge Tesla in electric cars – February 13, 2015
Apple’s next big thing: The Apple Car? – February 13, 2015
Apple hiring auto engineers and designers – February 13, 2015
Apple working with Intelligent Energy on fuel cell technology for mobile devices, sources say – July 14, 2014
North Carolina regulators approve Apple’s 4.8-megawatt fuel cell facility at Maiden data center – May 23, 2012
New aerial images of Apple’s planned NC fuel cell, solar farms published – April 7, 2012
Apple’s massive fuel cell energy project to be largest in the U.S. – April 4, 2012
Apple patent application reveals next-gen fuel cell powered Macs and iOS devices – December 22, 2011
Apple patent app details highly-advanced hydrogen fuel cells to power portable devices – October 20, 2011

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Readers “Fred Mertz,” “Denis,” “Jeff.L,” and “MovieManPDX” for the heads up.]