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Apple wants to test self-driving car tech on Chrysler’s former proving grounds

Apple Car

Apple’s plans to develop and manufacture its own branded car may have fallen by the wayside, but the company still remains interested in developing self-driving technologies. So while dozens of engineers have left Project Titan in recent months, Tim Cook this past summer essentially confirmed Apple’s ongoing interest in the automotive space while also noting that autonomous driving is now the primary focus of Apple’s car ambitions.

“We’re focusing on autonomous systems,” Cook said this past June. “It’s a core technology that we view as very important.” Cook later added that the entire initiative is “probably one of the most difficult AI projects to work on.”

All that said, Jalopnik is now reporting that Apple is ready to take its autonomous technologies out of the lab and put them to the test on the road. Specifically, Apple is said to be leasing a proving grounds in Arizona — formerly owned by Fiat Chrysler — in order to carry out some road testing. Naturally, the proving grounds is said to include a variety of roads designed to replicate an array of different driving conditions.

Over the last several months, Apple has been recruiting automotive test engineers and technicians from other proving grounds in the state, according to the source. The company signaled its intention is to test autonomous tech, the source said, which tracks with Apple’s revamped approach to self-driving cars.

On a related note, Apple earlier this month published a research paper highlighting some of the company’s self-driving car technologies. The paper specifically touted the progress Apple has made with respect to identifying cyclists and pedestrians on the road. Notably, the testing highlighted in the study was all based on computer simulations, which is perhaps why Apple is looking to take things a step further with actual road testing in Arizona.

Yoni Heisler has been writing about Apple and the tech industry at large for over 15 years. A life long Mac user and Apple expert, his writing has appeared in Edible Apple, Network World, MacLife, Macworld UK, and TUAW. When not analyzing the latest happenings with Apple, Yoni enjoys catching Improv shows in Chicago, playing soccer, and cultivating new TV show addictions.