It’s on. It’s off. It’s on again. Apple is reportedly preparing to buy struggling startup Drive.ai in its bid to beef up its autonomous vehicle efforts.
The planned deal is described as an “acqui-hire”—where Apple will hire talent from the startup without laying claim to any Drive.ai intellectual property. It’s unclear how much Apple is paying for the deal.
Drive.ai has been running small pilot programmes of its prototype self-driving shuttles in Texas. The company has raised about USD77 million in funding since it was founded in 2015. It was valued at USD200 million in 2017, according to Bloomberg. It has been up for sale for a while.
It is said that only a handful of specialists from the startup can help Apple because the Cupertino company’s driverless vehicle technology is already way ahead of Drive.ai’s.
It’s no secret that Apple has been working on self-driving vehicle technology for a while but has had its fair share of ups and downs. Last year, the company expanded its fleet of test cars to 27, including 24 Lexus RX450H SUVs, and reportedly also teamed up with Volkswagen for vehicle testing.
“It’s probably one of the most difficult AI projects to work on. Autonomy is something that’s incredibly exciting for us and we’ll see where it takes us.”Tim Cook, Apple CEO (June 2018)
In January this year, Apple reportedly pulled 200 employees off its super stealthy Project Titan autonomous vehicle initiative. This was said to involve some groups of people being moved to projects in other parts of the company, to support machine learning and other initiatives across all of Apple. The move may have been in anticipation of the enlisting of Tesla engineering vice president Doug Field to lead the project alongside Bob Mansfield.
Will we see an Apple self-driving car in the future? Probably not, but an Apple self-driving vehicle system i.e CarOS is certainly in the works.
If you’re on Apple’s campus grounds in California though, you may get to see the company’s short-haul self-driving shuttles.
VIA The Next Web