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Apple joins autonomous vehicle land rush in Silicon Valley

Apple might be eyeing up an 800,000 square foot land plot that will serve as an R&D base for Project Titan, the company’s autonomous car project.

Hudson Pacific Properties CEO Victor Coleman said in a quarterly earnings call on Thursday that auto and tech companies are looking for space in Silicon Valley to test autonomous cars, according to WSJ.

See Also: Could autonomous cars destroy the auto insurance industry?

“We’re seeing the Toyotas of the world, the Teslas of the world, BMWs, Mercedes. Ford now is out in the marketplace looking for space,” Coleman said. “I haven’t even mentioned the 400,000 square feet that Google’s looking to take down and the 800,000 square feet that Apple’s looking to take down for their autonomous cars as well.”

The increase in investment comes as more automotive companies start to embrace some form of automation. Tesla has already added automatic lane switching and Ford plans to install auto-parking in all cars after 2018.

More R&D and testing might lead to faster approval from the government on autonomous vehicles. It also gives developers like Google and Apple a way to test their car systems in a controlled environment.

Apple land plot is not huge but part of a growing demand

It should be noted that while 800,000 square feet is not huge, it is enough for a R&D lab and some test track for autonomous cars. For comparison, Apple’s Campus 2 (the spaceship) is 2.8 million square feet.

Alphabet’s interest in a 400,000 square foot plot is interesting, since the company already has 100 autonomous cars on the road in California. It might be a simple expansion, or it could be the first signs of Alphabet testing its own self-driving car.

That does seem unlikely, considering Alphabet recently partnered with Fiat Chrysler in what both companies called “the most advanced partnership” between Silicon Valley and a traditional automotive company.

Apple and Google parent Alphabet have both not commented on Coleman’s mention, but if work on a new R&D plant starts we’ll be sure to see it from Google Earth.

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