- NBA star LeBron James in an Intel ad that aims to build trust in self-driving cars. Courtesy of Intel.

Apple To Acquire Drive.ai In A Bid To Make Driverless Cars A Reality

2w ago


American tech giant, Apple is famous for introducing the world to some of the most innovative tech. Apple Inc. is also well-renowned for investing in smaller tech companies that specialize in innovative solutions.

Apple bought AR company, Metaio in 2015, as one of the first AR companies it purchased in a mini run of AR acquisitions. They then went on to buy Beats, the audio and sound company from Dr. Dre.

These investments saw Apple introduce native AR based apps and games to the iPhone and iPad. Not to mention the stellar sound quality on their products after including Beats powered speakers and headphones.

In another similar move that will help Apple spread its expertise into the world of autonomous vehicle technology, a Bloomberg report suggests that the iPhone manufacturer is gearing to buy start-up Drive.ai.

Drive.ai uses artificial intelligence to create self-driving transportation solutions that improve the state of mobility. This investment will help Apple to further their ambition of building self-driving technology and honing their existing efforts in the field.

However, there's no clarity yet on how much Apple is going to have to pay for this acquisition.

Apple’s investment in Drive.ai is termed as acqui-hire, where larger technology companies buy small start-ups to gain talent. This will allow Apple to hand pick which Drive.ai staff they want to keep.

This means the tech giant won’t be using any intellectual property from the start-up; merely using the minds of the people at the startup to build driverless technology.

“We believe the potential acquisition price would be below their last $200m valuation,” Top Apple analyst, Gene Munster, at Loup Ventures, wrote in a research note.

A person familiar with the autonomous driving tech startup revealed that Drive.ai has been looking for investors or a buy out option since quite some time now. The source also revealed that Drive.ai has struggled to build traction in the market.

Apple’s driverless technology is already pretty advanced as the tech giant has been working on the technology for several years now.

Although the project hasn’t been a huge success, with Apple having to downsize the project by about 200 workers, the tech giant is determined and committed to pursue this area of tech.

This means only a handful of specialists from the start-up will be able to help Apple in its endeavor to win at autonomous driving solutions.

“Apple’s primary ambitions in autonomy lie in the broad application of autonomous systems and related services,’ Munster said. "Their potential acquisition of Drive.ai would bring a new crop of engineering talent to aid in these efforts, but we do not expect a consumer product or service from Apple for 4+ years.”

What are your thoughts on driverless tech?