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Apple shows interest in driverless car test track

Apple shows interest in driverless car test track
Apple CEO Tim Cook, seen in March in San Francisco, has declined to comment on rumors that his company is building a self-driving electric car. (Stephen Lam / Getty Images)

Is Apple building a self-driving car? That's the rumor, and Apple's not saying.

The British newspaper the Guardian said Apple may sign up with GoMentum Station in Concord, northeast of San Francisco. The former naval base is now a testing ground for driverless cars, boasting 20 miles of roads and a military guard. Mercedes-Benz and Honda have already put the space to use, said the Guardian.

Apple declined to comment.
When the Guardian contacted the venue through its owner, the Contra Costa Transportation Authority, it learned that the agency had signed a non-disclosure agreement with Apple.
“We can’t tell you anything other than they’ve come in and they’re interested,” Randy Iwasaki, the Transportation Authority’s executive director, told the newspaper.
As recently as May, a program manager at GoMentum Station told an Apple engineer in an email that the facility was working “to keep everything moving and to meet your testing schedule.”
The correspondence isn’t the only sign that Apple is gearing up to make cars. Last month, Apple hired a former senior executive from Chrysler, and, according to some reports, has also brought on a Swiss autonomous vehicle and robotics expert.
Industry analysts have noted that Apple holds the cash to make car dreams a reality. A quarter of its cash flow, about $15 billion, is equal to nearly four months of research and development spending by automakers around the world, said Morgan Stanley’s Adam Jonas in a report to investors.
While some analysts see Apple as setting out to reinvent transportation, others have been skeptical, predicting that the company is mainly interested in designing and supply electronic components and consumer gadgets for increasingly automated cars.

daina.solomon@latimes.com

Twitter: @dainabethcita

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