Hey Apple: WTF is going on in Germany?
The Cupertino company might be up to something on the down low in Deutschland, according to Business Insider‘s Sam Shead. The reporter investigated rumors of a secret Apple office focused on automotive development in Berlin, following an initial leak last year that Apple was snatching up German engineering talent in the wake of Microsoft’s acquisition of Nokia.
It took almost half a year, but Shead’s tenacity appears to have paid off. He claims to have found the office smack dab in the middle of Berlin, in a nondescript building overlooking the city’s famous Gendarmenmarkt square area.
Shead’s efforts to find the mysterious workspace were aided by a source in Berlin’s startup scene and a barista at a coffeeshop near the alleged building. Once he homed in on the office, Shead found a buzzer affixed with the company’s name, but no other explicit Apple heraldry.
A man leaving the building told Shead Apple “quietlymoved in around a year ago,” but knew little else about the operation. The reporter’s attempts to make contact with anyone on Apple’s floor were met with no response, and the office’s window blinds were shut to keep anyone from peeking in.
Unsurprisingly, Apple didn’t respond to BI‘s request for comment about the office, and had nothing to say to us when we reached out via email, either.
So what’s going on over there?
Popular sentiment and previous reports point to the secret office being a facility for Apple’s rumored automotive project, which has been bandied about over the past few years without any direct confirmation. “Project Titan,” as the initiative was reportedly called internally, appeared to run out of gas last year after reports of layoffs but that was when the focus was on actually building an electric car.
More recent reports suggest the company is working on an autonomous platform, described in documents as the “Apple Automated System.”
The German operation could be focused on the more technical aspects of that potential self-driving platform. Shead’s sleuthing on LinkedIn discovered “dozens of engineers” employed by Apple in Berlin, lending more weight to the theory. Among these engineers are supposedly former Here employees, who could be involved in high-level mapping work needed for autonomous car systems.
Apple has visibly ramped up its automotive efforts in the U.S. of late. The company registered three cars with the California DMV for self-driving tests last month, one of which was reportedly spotted leaving an Apple facility.
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