Announcement: California Automotive Technology Testing & Development Center Expansion to Be Constructed in 2019 // GLDPartners // September 13, 2018
Funding has been put in-place and the site secured to build a global hub for a large-scale automotive technology testing and development complex in California. The California AutoTech Testing and Development Center (CATDC) (http://www.calautotdc.com) is a 700-acre project that is being developed in Merced County which is located near to and directly to the east of Silicon Valley. The purpose-built testbed project is being planned, designed and engineered to be an important asset for developing many of the new technologies and applications that are shaping the future of human mobility. The CATDC is open currently and will complete an major expansion in mid-2019 with the construction of a campus with a range of test zone types. When complete, the CATDC will include multiple test zones focused on supporting product testing and development in the areas of: 1) vehicle autonomy, 2) propulsion/powertrain systems, 3) active safety and 4) connected vehicle communications. In addition to current high-speed testing and urban grid facilities that are currently open, the purpose-built multizone CATDC Main Campus will be constructed on a 400+ acre site in early 2019 and will be open in the Summer, 2019.
Could autonomous car testing be the rebirth of Castle Airport in Atwater? // Merced Sun Star // September 3, 2018
A roughly 310-acre space is now being called the California AutoTech Testing and Development Center, a project that benefited from a $6.5 million injection of cash in this year’s state budget attributed to Assemblymember Adam Gray, D-Merced. Merced County residents are likely aware that Google’s autonomous cars project, called Waymo, already rents space at Castle for a mock city used to test the vehicles. But the testing center has also been used by Samsung Electronics, Mercedes-Benz-maker Daimler AG and several others officials say they can’t discuss, according to officials.
Samsung Joins Waymo At Autonomous Testing Site // WardsAuto // January 29, 2018
Sometime this year, both Waymo and Samsung likely will get a boost in exposure when the county and lead project designer GLDPartners ramp up marketing the 300-acre (121-ha) California AutoTech Testing, Development and Production Campus, which encompasses the independently run Waymo component. It is part of the 2,000-acre (809-ha) Mid-California International Trade District at Castle, a $1-billion multimodal industrial manufacturing and logistics development that Hendrickson says will eventually provide an estimated 10,000 on-site jobs.
Self-Driving Cars Now Roam Across Former California Military Facilities // San Francisco Chronicle // September 6, 2017
Presidents have landed here, back when it was the center of a bustling Air Force base. Aerial firefighters battling blazes in the Sierra foothills touch down here to refill their tankers with water and flame retardant before taking off for another run. Silicon Valley, a land of labs and corporate campuses, never had need for automotive test tracks — until now. While 39 companies have received permits from California to run their autonomous vehicles on public streets, the companies also want enclosed places where they can experiment without endangering or annoying pedestrians and drivers. The base features intersections where roads meet at strange angles — potentially confusing a self-driving car. Large hangars can store cars, so companies don’t need to constantly bring vehicles to and from the base. And for foreign automakers, the airstrip can allow easy access for visiting company executives.
Waymo built a fake California city to test tricky self-driving scenarios (Video) // Slate.com // August 25, 2017
In the past few months, the typically secretive company has been inviting select reporters to peek at what their team has been working on, including a secret mock city about 100 miles east of Silicon Valley built to test its fleet of robot cars. As the Atlantic reported in sweeping detail earlier this week, the fake city is a fenced-off plot of land that the Waymo team calls Castle, named after the Castle Air Force Base that used to operate there. And inside, the engineers have built all kinds of intersections and driveways and roads, but except for the pink Air Force dormitories that remain from the old base, there are no buildings that one would typically find in an American town. One stretch of road has a series of neighboring driveways with no houses behind them.
Inside Waymo’s Secret World for Training Self-Driving Cars // The Atlantic Magazine // August 23, 2017
The simulations are part of an intricate process that Waymo has developed. They’ve tightly interwoven the millions of miles their cars have traveled on public roads with a “structured testing” program they conduct at a secret base in the Central Valley they call Castle. Waymo has never unveiled this system before. The miles they drive on regular roads show them areas where they need extra practice. They carve the spaces they need into the earth at Castle, which lets them run thousands of different scenarios in situ. And in both kinds of real-world testing, their cars capture enough data to create full digital recreations at any point in the future. In that virtual space, they can unhitch from the limits of real life and create thousands of variations of any single scenario, and then run a digital car through all of them. As the driving software improves, it’s downloaded back into the physical cars, which can drive more and harder miles, and the loop begins again.
Exclusive: Merced County is developing a 2,000-acre auto tech center for Silicon Valley’s self-driving cars // Silicon Valley Journal // July 31, 2017
Merced County is in the process of developing a 2,000-acre site encompassing the former Castle Air Force Base, which it hopes will become the center for testing, development and manufacturing of automotive technology, including for many of the self-driving cars being developed in Silicon Valley. Adam Wasserman, managing partner of Scottsdale, Arizona-based GLDPartners, which consults with international companies on optimizing their supply chains, said the project expects to announce its first tenant — likely linked to Silicon Valley’s efforts on autonomous driving R&D — by early fall. Google is already using a 91-acre site for its own autonomous car testing program adjacent to the planned Mid-California AutoTech Testing, Development and Production Campus, county officials said. At full build-out, the development plan calls for 8 million square feet of industrial space employing about 9,300 people. “It just puts us on that technology map that everybody in Silicon Valley is enjoying,” said Daron McDaniel, chair of the county’s board of supervisors. “The project takes advantage of the dire lack of testing facilities anywhere in the country, much less in California, where much of the research that is shaping the global auto industry is now taking place,” Wasserman wrote in an email.