Apple May Buy Robotaxi Start-up Drive.ai
The Information has revealed that Apple is wanting to buy self-driving shuttle service Drive.ai in its most recent play in the autonomous vehicle space.
Apple has wanted a grounding in the automotive space for a long time, even bidding for Tesla a few years ago, according to RCP analyst Craig Irwin. However, Apple’s own autonomous vehicle project has recently experienced a huge restructuring. CNBC reported that Apple fired over 200 employees from the project, popularly known as Project Titan. This move was seen as a shake-up under the project’s new leadership, which contains former Tesla engineering vice president Doug Field.
If the Drive.ai purchase occurs, Apple will gain dozens of engineers from the company. Drive.ai has raised $77 million and had a valuation of around $200 million two years ago. However, since then, the company has had major changes, such as replacing its CEO and slowing down the efforts towards its aim of providing an autonomous robotaxi service with unrestricted drop-offs to a shuttle service with specified routes.
Apple has mostly kept its plans for self-driving cars and other car related technology secretive as competitors like Alphabet’s Waymo and Uber have started testing their technology publicly. Waymo now offers a restricted self-driving car service in Phoenix, for instance. In early 2019, Tesla CEO Elon Musk said the company would introduce more self-driving abilities to Tesla cars, with the aim of enabling 1 million “robotaxis” in 2020.
Apple refused to comment on the report.