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Apple's self-driving car program could have a new proving ground

Release Date:2018-02-22

Apple's self-driving car project might have a new test site. 

The company is leasing an Arizona proving ground to experiment with its nascent autonomous platform, according to a Jalopnik report citing a source familiar with the project. The facility in Surprise, Arizona was previously owned by Fiat Chrysler, which took advantage of the area's brutal climate to conduct tests on how heat affected its vehicles.

Apple's designs for the now-empty property would be focused squarely on testing its autonomous platform, which is thought to be the main focus of the company's automotive development after the rumored work to actually produce a car, "Project Titan," reportedly shuttered last year. Tim Cook confirmed Apple's self-driving car platform earlier this year, and the company's test vehicles have reportedly been spotted on California's public roads. 

An Apple spokesperson declined to comment on the Arizona lease report when reached by Mashable via email. 

Apple has been linked with an automotive testing ground before, when people believed the company would build its own vehicles and Project Titan rumors were prevalent. Apple was rumored to have tabbed California's GoMentum track to test its vehicle prototypes back in 2015, but nothing was ever publicly confirmed. Toyota recently signed an agreement to test its driverless cars on the site. 

Apple computer scientists published new research about their tests with self-driving car software last week, a rare move from employees of the ultra-secretive company. The system they described eliminates the need to use cameras to detect objects around a self-driving car, and could be a key candidate for closed-course testing if the Arizona site really is Apple's latest move to become a player the world of self-driving car development.  


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