Tech giant Apple announced that it has acquired autonomous driving startup company Drive.ai as part of its strategy to bring aboard the latter’s engineers to develop its own self-driving technology, according to media reports.
According to Axios, Apple also purchased Drive.ai’s autonomous cars and other assets. However, the purchase price was not disclosed. Axios reported that Apple is expected to pay less than $77 million that Drive.ai raised in venture capital. That said, the deal is extremely important to Apple because it is likely to boost the company’s self-driving-car initiative Project Titan.
Drive.ai was founded in 2015. The company had seemed to be one of the few promising startups working on autonomous cars, using deep learning to recognise and avoid objects on the road. Drive.ai had been running small pilot programs in Texas, and had started seeking buyers in February.
The San Francisco Chronicle said that the company is laying off 90 workers in California and hired many more employees in Texas.
According to The Information, Drive.ai hires will join the rest of the employees hired by the tech giant from rival car companies such as Waymo and Tesla.
Several media reports said that the deal could possibly result in many of Drive.ai engineers join the company. The deal is commonly referred to as ‘acqui-hire’, where multinationals in the Silicon Valley acquire struggling startups, mainly with the intent to hire their engineers.
Drive.ai was last valued at $200 million and was planning to partner with companies such as Lyft.