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Transportation Apple News

Documents Indicate Apple Is Building a Self-Driving Car 118

An anonymous reader writes: The Guardian has obtained correspondence through a public records request that indicate Apple is seeking a facility in the San Francisco area to test a self-driving car. "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." The station is a facility left over from WWII, and its 20 miles of highways and city streets are surrounded by barbed-wire fences. Honda and Mercedes-Benz have already used it to test their self-driving car technology. "This security is bound to appeal to Apple, which has hundreds of engineers quietly working on automotive technologies in an anonymous office building in Sunnyvale, four miles from its main campus in Cupertino."
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Documents Indicate Apple Is Building a Self-Driving Car

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  • Apple KITT (Score:4, Funny)

    by Bongo ( 13261 ) on Saturday August 15, 2015 @09:34AM (#50321875)

    I'm really looking of forward to a car I can talk to.

    Mike Traceur: [awakes suddenly] Man, I was out cold.
    K.I.T.T.: Actually, Michael, you were not out cold. You were in a very heavy REM state.
    Mike Traceur: You know, you sometimes sound like Hal from 2001?
    K.I.T.T.: I find that movie extremely confusing.
    Mike Traceur: You know what confuses me?
    K.I.T.T.: There are not enough hours in the day to list all the things that confuse you.
    Mike Traceur: Oh, snap.
    K.I.T.T.: Yes, Michael. Snap.

  • apple? (Score:3, Funny)

    by bigmo ( 181402 ) on Saturday August 15, 2015 @09:37AM (#50321891)

    It will cost 3 million dollars and no one over 40 will be able to figure out how to open the door.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      The door only responds to smugness.

      • You want smug? Try this. I've got an Android phone and an iPhone. The iPhone cost 11 times as much as the Android. Yet it was far better value. :-)

    • Re:apple? (Score:5, Funny)

      by MrDoh! ( 71235 ) on Saturday August 15, 2015 @09:53AM (#50321943) Homepage Journal
      And after the first dozen accidents, Apple will trot out experts who claim that the 'drivers' were 'sitting in it wrong' and iCar 8 will fix the problems current drivers are having, but you'll need a new car to get the benefits. Plus, you won't be able to drive and listen to music at the same time, and if you buy the car with an AT&T plan, you'll only be able to drive 50 miles a week before you have to pay for more mileage.
      • Re: apple? (Score:5, Funny)

        by binarylarry ( 1338699 ) on Saturday August 15, 2015 @10:09AM (#50321991)

        I have a friend in the r&d lab.

        Apparently, instead of a steering wheel there's just one giant button.

      • And after the first dozen accidents, Apple will trot out experts who claim that the 'drivers' were 'sitting in it wrong' and iCar 8 will fix the problems current drivers are having, but you'll need a new car to get the benefits. Plus, you won't be able to drive and listen to music at the same time, and if you buy the car with an AT&T plan, you'll only be able to drive 50 miles a week before you have to pay for more mileage.

        Plus, every OS update will make your car run slower.

    • by Webmoth ( 75878 )

      To get out of the car, you'll have to sit in the litter bag.

    • It will cost 3 million dollars and no one over 40 will be able to figure out how to open the door.

      Nah, the prices will start from a competetive $50k for a model that can only go 5 miles to destinations preapproved by Apple, and up to 3 million for the model that is actually useful.

    • I hate that I have to agree with this. I have no idea how to do anything on my Macbook from the GUI except open something in the carousel. It took me almost an hour to figure out how to attach XTerm to the damn thing so I could actually work on the damn thing. I will say it is the lightest and most powerful (for the specs) BSD machine I have.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 15, 2015 @09:41AM (#50321923)

    During its most successful eras, when it was ruled by Steve Jobs, Apple attained this high level of success with a small number of very focused product offerings. The focus resulted in a high level of detail and care being put into the development of these products. They weren't just mediocre. They weren't just good. They were near-perfection.

    Sometimes this meant that Apple would miss other opportunities. But that's what happens when one focuses: other things are ignored so the thing in focus can be perfected.

    But today's Apple? I see it running wild, chasing at random opportunities without the focus that brought it so much success in the past. We see this in the watches that nobody wants, and the complication of their laptop lineup with the introduction of the very limited MacBook, and now what may be a foray into vehicles.

    I don't think that Steve Jobs, the master of product development, would have even considered chasing vehicular products. They are not what Apple is about. It's much like when Debian adopted systemd; yes, it's possible, but it's not the right thing to do. It's a clash of cultures, where the successful culture is betrayed by that which is experimental.

    Apple, return to your roots! Focus on the small number of devices and services that made you so great!

    • by alvinrod ( 889928 ) on Saturday August 15, 2015 @09:58AM (#50321957)
      Unfortunately stock holders don't like companies that rest on their laurels, especially tech companies. The tech industry has also shown us that no matter what the big thing is today, in 15 years it could very well be gone. For as big as the iPod was for Apple, the phone has completely devoured that market. The only way Apple can sit on their hands is if they control a majority of their own shares, otherwise share holders will always demand growth, which is easier for Apple to do in new or emerging markets rather than in their established product markets.

      At some point in the future, most or all cars will self-driving and I would imagine that Apple sees themselves as being the purveyor of luxury self-driving cars, much like they target the high-end of the markets in which they exist today. Personally, I think that they'd be better off getting into large household appliances and tackling the smart home problem, but they've probably spent more time analyzing this than your or I have and think that cars represent more value.
      • We don't have a lot to go on here, and what we have doesn't even mean Apple cares much about self-driving cars.

        We do know that Apple wants to get in on the dashboard console systems of cars. It could be as simple as someone at a car company saying, "We kind of are leaning towards Android, because Google is building self-driving cars, and we want in on that technology." And the salesman responding, "Well, we have self-driving cars too!" Then quickly starting some kind of lousy program.

        It's hard to say, b
        • by tlhIngan ( 30335 )

          We don't have a lot to go on here, and what we have doesn't even mean Apple cares much about self-driving cars.

          We do know that Apple wants to get in on the dashboard console systems of cars. It could be as simple as someone at a car company saying, "We kind of are leaning towards Android, because Google is building self-driving cars, and we want in on that technology." And the salesman responding, "Well, we have self-driving cars too!" Then quickly starting some kind of lousy program.

          Most likely, Ap

    • Roots? Apple nearly went bankrupt for the few years that Jobs wasn't there. I'm sorry to tell you this, buddy, but unfocused and useless *is* Apple's roots.

      Someone needs to be empowered to kick the company into shape, and unfortunately the hiring process for C level positions specifically excludes anyone with a personality capable of doing that.

      • Kick the company into shape? Ah ha ha ha ha.

        Apple Is the most profitable company of any company in the world, ever. Right now.
        And it does so whilst having the highest customer satisfaction in the industry.

        You're an idiot.

        • Apple Is the most profitable company of any company in the world, ever. Right now.
          And it does so whilst having the highest customer satisfaction in the industry.

          And yet they only have a minority of the market. If they are actually that great, everyone should buy Apple, right? Only they aren't, so they don't. You only think they're great if you've drunk the kool-aid, and you want to tell everyone how great it is, so you answer surveys and exaggerate on them.

          • And yet they only have a minority of the market. If they are actually that great, everyone should buy Apple, right?

            Of course not. That would be sub optimal pricing. If you have great products there's no reason to sell them too cheaply.

            You only think they're great if you've drunk the kool-aid

            Or you have the intelligence to realise that the company making the most profit of any company ever in the entire world is doing a good job.

            And there's no need to exaggerate surveys. Apple is consistently the top of every customer satisfaction survey.

            You you don't have one it probably means you can't afford one.

        • Oh no! Some moron from the internet called me an idiot! I'm doomed!

          Jobs kicked Apple into shape so thoroughly his second time around that they are just running on momentum now, and will be for a few more years to come. It takes your normal large company 5 or 6 years to fail after it's driving force is removed, and Jobs left apple with no debt and a ridiculous amount of cash in the bank, so I'm predicting something like 10 years of coasting and flailing about weakly before Apple feels any pressure to do anyt

          • Oh no! Some moron from the internet called me an idiot! I'm doomed!

            On no! Some idiot off the internet called me a moron. But that's OK, he doesn't know what it means. :-)

            Nothing Apple has done since Job's death has done anything to turn around the company's fortune.

            You are an idiot. They were the best performing company in the world, and they still are. Didn't need "turning around".

          • by tsa ( 15680 )

            >

            Nothing Apple has done since Job's death has done anything to turn around the company's fortune.

            And that's a good thing or they would burn money like an explosion.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Well, Apple's roots actually go back to a period earlier than Jobs' absence. As it turns out, Apple was Apple _before_ Jobs left. Though I agree with the notion that currently they're confused; they even engaged in gay propaganda - not just the coming out of Tim Cook, which was unusual anyway in that most CEOs don't declare their sexual preferences and specific sexual fantasies and fetishes in public. But pushing U2's album, which I haven't listened to (may or may not be gay, but the Internet says pretty ga

        • by Uberbah ( 647458 )

          unusual anyway in that most CEOs don't declare their sexual preferences and specific sexual fantasies and fetishes in public

          Thanks for revealing your specific bigotry and homophobia in public.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Short answer I'd believe is "No".

      Problem with Apple without Jobs is that they are now in a perpetual state of playing "Catch up" with the rest of the the market. Had Jobs still been alive today (and CEO) I think we would have seen things like in Apple focusing more on wearable devices sooner but nothing like cars. If you look at AAPL's financials R&D was never key to the companies priorities for a long time. If Apple has worked on something cutting edge I'd be keen to learn about it. Maybe semiconductor

    • We see this in the watches that nobody wants

      Except for the fact that they were sold out for months.

      What else is there? iPad was already in development when Jobs was still alive. So it comes down to some new form-factor sizes. That's all. You just can't say that Apple's going in the wrong direction based on a highly successful watch, and nothing failing.

      I don't think that Steve Jobs

      What you think doesn't matter, because you haven't got a fucking clue what Steve Jobs would have done.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Except for the fact that they were sold out for months.

        And how the fuck does that matter?

        I could build one kick-ass gaming computer. It would have lights and fans and everything. I could sell it for three or four times its cost to a dumb friend of mine. I could then refuse to build another one for my other dumb friend until months had gone by. But I could still brag about making 300% profit, having cash in the bank, having all of my product bought up at launch, and then being sold out for months. Yet the re

    • by robi5 ( 1261542 )

      Another take on this is that Apple has successfully executed a sort of mini industrial revolution, it's enough to compare today's phones as industrial products with what was available 10 years ago. It's an order of magnitude improvement in machining tolerances, material design, component layout, general product design and unified hardware / software experience.

      These improvements are not to be confused with memory, CPU etc. improvements, which however have also been instrumental, and, irrespectice of the abo

    • When Google decided to do R&D on self-driving cars, that was somewhat random. Only somewhat because Google has expertise in quickly making decisions based on a large amount of unreliable, noisy data - exactly the kind of fuzzy logic a self-driving car requires.

      When Apple followed suit, that's not random, that's Apple emulating their largest competitor. Unwisely, perhaps, because this kind of thing isn't Apple's forte. Apple is good at making well-polished consumers electronics gadgets for consumers an

      • by KGIII ( 973947 )

        I am actually sort of surprised that there is no Apple branded automobile. The precedent is already there. One of my cars is an L.L. Bean branded Outback and there are other examples including Bauer editions. I am truly expecting one. I sort of expected it to be a Prius or a Cooper Mini - trendy (of course).

        Disclaimer: I have a buttload of AAPL in my non-play portfolio and got it while Jobs was away/just coming back. I do not use their products much or at all really.

  • If this facility is so high security then why is there an article with so much detail written about it? It seems that would defeat the point.

    • Detail? What detail? We know Apple is interested in booking some time at an autonomous vehicle testing site. Nothing more. Where's the detail?

      You're still an idiot.

  • Can't wait (Score:4, Informative)

    by Skylinux ( 942824 ) on Saturday August 15, 2015 @09:52AM (#50321941) Homepage

    Following Apple design trends.

    * You get no status lights but a high resolution display to run OS X on
    * Turning your car on will take forever and it will not tell you that it is starting up
    * You won't know that your car is on but everyone around you will see a glowing Apple logo
    * Charging your car will require a new type of Apple connector
    * It will have no network ports but you may purchase an expensive adapter
    * The car will be 0.5mm slimmer because of the missing network connector
    * Adding the size of the various adapters actually makes the device larger then the completion.... but hey, who will notice?
    * It will come with WiFi and Bonjour service. Bonjour will constantly DOS the Inter Car Network to discover other hip cars
    * Seats will be extremely uncomfortable but they will look fucking awesome
    * You will have to upload music using iTunes
    * The car expects you to be a total moron so it will not give you a dedicated button for hazards lights and similar things. All of that will be controlled by the in car "Apple AI"

    Can't wait what they will produce .....

    • If it gets towed can you jailbreak it?

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      Don't forget the wave of patent litigation against other manufacturers, and the incompatibly with non Apple phones. Oh, and it will cost 2-3x as much as much better cars.

    • * Turning your car on will take forever and it will not tell you that it is starting up

      Just to take this one item. I just switched my Mac off. Then switched it on.
      Switch on to login screen = 7 seconds.
      Login screen to completely loaded desktop with all 17 apps I was previously using already opened with documents = an additional 2 seconds.

      And of course progress bars during the 7 seconds for the impatient heads.

      Read it and weep.

    • The actual auto-pilot will run in the cloud.
      • by KGIII ( 973947 )

        It will be driven by a bunch of Chinese workers with PS3 joysticks using RDP. Apple will still patent it. They will claim the connection from the joysticks is new and innovative. And my stock portfolio will bloat. I call that a sort-of-win.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    If Apple builds a car will it have Windows?

  • Or they require you to drive the Apple car only inside the walled apple gardens?

    All cars will soon be shaped like rounded rectangles. Side swipe would not be considered an accident anymore, it is just part of the user interface. All seats will be nice simple squares and people have to configure themselves to fit inside. If the parking brake does not engage you will be told you are not holding it right. You can buy gasoline only from Apple compatible gas stations with pentalobulous dispensing nozzles.

  • by GeLeTo ( 527660 ) on Saturday August 15, 2015 @10:21AM (#50322047)
    The cars that Apple and Google [aolcdn.com] are developing will not be for sale. They are making self-driving taxis - these will be cheaper and more convenient than owning a car, especially in congested cities. UBER is also working on self-driving cars. At the latest TESLA earnings call Elon Musk was asked if they are working on such service, and after a long silence he refused to answer the question. Big changes ahead for the automotive industry,
    • The cars that Apple and Google are developing will not be for sale.

      Have they not hear about States' dealership laws?

      • by tsa ( 15680 )

        Apple and Google both have enough money to buy new laws that suit them better.

    • Part of the reason Apple is getting into the car industry in the first place has to be to leverage the marquee value of their name. A taxi company doesn't want a fancy brand name, they want something cheap and reliable. It would only make sense if Apple was getting into the consumer market.

    • At the latest TESLA earnings call Elon Musk was asked if they are working on such service, and after a long silence he refused to answer the question.

      Silence for you, lawyer in his ear for him.

      Don't count on these vehicles remaining not for sale. That's just a phase, if even true.

    • by Tom ( 822 )

      This is what I've been saying for more than a year now. It should become clear to everyone by now.

      We have short-time rental car companies in the city already, where you can pick up a car wherever you find it (your smartphone will tell you the nearest one), drive to where you want and simply leave it there.

      This system has only 2 disadvantages: You need to find a car at point A and a parking space at point B.

      A self-driving car would not have this problem. Call it with your smartphone, whenever I checked for o

      • by KGIII ( 973947 )

        I can tell you that your statistic is an order of magnitude off - at least. However, I am not going to go find a public citation for it. You can accept an appeal to authority or you can ignore me. It is, I assume I have babbled about it enough, what I did for a living and what my ex-company still does today. At best, you may find you are looking for a parking space for 3% of the time. There is no way, at all, that 30% of the traffic is looking for parking when the amount of traffic that is going to a differ

        • by Tom ( 822 )

          Nah, I will not argue. I simply remember a study I once read and I couldn't even find it again without a big effort.

          But I live in the city, and near the center. When I moved here, I actually sold my car in part because I spent so much time looking for (scarce) parking spaces, and then usually found them so far away, that I could just as well walk to the bus or underground. At certain days and times, it's so pointless to even look that I parked out of the area and once I actually took the underground for one

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Everyone says an Apple branded or co-branded self-driving car. But does Apple really want to play that game? It could be its a test vehicle for Apple based systems and the resulting car "Eco System" that they sell to other manufacturer (ala Car-Play, who could pick and choose the ones). The 2025 GMC Ohm (unlike volt there is still a lot of resistance to autonomous cars , sorry had to do the pun).

    • Who says that? I haven't heard it. And I wouldn't believe it if I had. Apple doesn't put their name on products designed by other companies.

      Apple have the money and the design ambition to do it. And they've seen Tesla already do it for the EV market.

      And they know the major player so far is Google, and what they will design will be shit, with low desirability.

      So why wouldn't Apple produce their own autonomous car.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Apple doesn't put their name on products designed by other companies.

        All signs point to them using the BMW i3 platform. And possibly Magna for the main assembly shop.

      • by swb ( 14022 )

        I've read that in more than one place. I own a Volvo, and I don't know how much of that car Volvo actually *makes*. The engine is from Yamaha, the glass Saint-Gobain, the transmission is from Aisin (which I think is owned by Toyota), the AWD systems from Haldex, and on and on and on.

        Cars may be designed by their marques and depending on a bunch of factors those companies may actually make some of the parts that go into them, but so many automotive systems are from the giant international automotive system

        • Of course Apple would buy parts in, just as every other car builder does. And as they do for their computers.

          Note Apple does still do some manufacturing themselves. The Mac Pro is manufactured by Apple themselves in the USA.

          It's hard to see Apple wanting to get into the car assembly business and as far as I know there really isn't a Foxconn of final assembly you can have build your car design. It's very labor intensive, the UAW is still something of a force to be dealt with, and it's a business Apple has zero experience with.

          You could make all those same arguments for Tesla. Yet they manufacture their own cars in California. And Tesla has far more capital available to do it.

          Frankly, I see the "Apple car" as a way to come up with CarPlay on steroids -- a test platform to figure out how they can come up with some kind of next generation interface and management system that they can sell to carmakers. I would seriously doubt they have the slightest interest in actually getting into the vehicle assembly business.

          Small beer. And it doesn't explain why Apple would want the autonomous vehicle testing site, unless you mean CarPlay expanding to a univ

        • by Dog-Cow ( 21281 )

          The way Ford operates, and I assume it's more-or-less the same for the other auto manufactures, is that Ford designs the parts, but essentially contracts out the manufacture to other companies. So, Haldex may make the AWD system, but Volvo had a hand in the design. Of course, companies work together all the time, and it's no different with the larger parts and systems manufacturers. They partner with the automative company that needs the part to design to their specs.

  • i hope it uses apple maps.
    • And once that car reaches 88 miles per hour, we can go back a few years to when that joke was funny!

  • Everyone is building a self-driving car these days. Heck, even my hamster is building a self-driving car.

    Apple had better do something new if they expect to keep their bloated stock price. But that doesn't seem likely in the post-Jobs era.

  • After it autonomously shifts into reverse, turns hard right, and falls off a cliff...

    "don't drive it like that"

  • It'll never take you to a brothel though. As per usual they'll leave that to Google.
  • Maaaaan! So coool! I want it! Apple is always the best! Oh man I can't wait to get it. Why isn't it out yesterday?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I think the evolution of transport is quite comical. I still remember the old riding grocery store with a 80+ year old guy that still used his horse carriage to sell his vegetables to his customers. He was retired but lost his wife close after retirement. And instead of living their dream, he just continued working. He just wanted to forget his sorrows and used alcohol to forget, so he just went to the pubs whenever he had the money. At the end of the day he would be so drunk that he didn't know where he wa

  • 20 miles of highways and city streets are surrounded by barbed-wire fences.

    No match for some remote-controlled drones with cameras and such.

Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is absurd. - Voltaire

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