While Google Inc tests its autonomous cars on the public roads for everyone to see, Apple Inc prefers a more reserved approach. But a leaked document surfaced that the iPhone maker also has a fleet of driverless cars which it plans to test very soon.
The operation, which was prevously dubbed “Project Titan,” is for real. A series of e-mail exchanges between Apple’s staffers and GoMentum Station, a Silicon Valley-based former naval base that was recently turned into a testing facility for robotic cars, point into that direction.
In the e-mails Apple’s Frank Fearon wants more details on the testing site. He wants to know when the site would be available “and how we would need to coordinate around other parties who would be using [it],”
Both companies declined to comment after the leaked documents were published. But Apple’s fleet of autonomous vehicles was believed to be more than just wishful thinking in the past few months.
In spring, Jeff Williams, the company’s senior vice president, argued that Apple Inc. considered autonomous vehicles as the ultimate mobile devices and for that reason it was prospecting a cohort of various markets.
The company’s chief executive Tim Cook met with automotive industry experts and even hired some of them over the course of last year. But despite the obvious moves, Apple declined to confirm its driverless car projects.
Unlike Apple, Google was less secretive. The web search giant even made sustained efforts to convince people that it was a pioneer in the driverless technology.
On the other hand, driverless cars may sound like something out of a Sci-Fi flick, but the technology is more common than we may think. Experts explained that autonomous driving is a technology that crept into regular cars several years ago.
“The building blocks of driverless cars are on the road now,”
one of the experts noted.
Some examples of those “building blocks” are less obvious like the self-parking technology and the systems that sense obstacles and force the car to brake automatically when there is a clear risk of collision.
Google’s self-driving cars are expected to be commercially available in two years’ time. But major car makers are also testing driverless cars. Rumor has it that Mercedes and Honda already tested such cars on GoMentum’s site. But their technology won’t hit the market sooner than 2018, experts believe.
Google, on the other hand, has a head start. The tech giant started to test its first autonomous vehicles six years ago, and since then its cars ran more than 1 million miles during tests.
Image Source: Hexus
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