Drive.ai, an autonomous car startup once valued for $200 million, was supposedly to close but Apple acquired the struggling startup instead.
A year ago, drive.ai was considered as one of the promising startups for autonomous cars. The team made a name for themselves by using innovative tech to avoid obstacles on the road and recognize them. Drive.ai was also seen on public roads for the test drive.
The startup’s team modified a Nissan NV200s, which was easy to spot on the roads. The car was bright orange and had a blue strip on the sides with “self-driving” embellished on it. Also, there were LED screens attached on the hood, two above the front tiers and one on the rear end, to convey the vehicle’s motion such as- “waiting,” “going,” or “exiting”.
Even with so much progress, it was not enough for the Drive.ai to survive in the market. The investors had poured millions on the autonomous cars but the results did not seem to be impressive. This led to the downfall of the startup and eventually planned to shut down, with laying 90 employees off the project.
Apple confirmed of acquiring the struggling Drive.ai firm. Reports suggest that the tech giant seemed to have its own struggle with a secretive Project Titan. By acquiring this startup firm, all the Drive.ai engineers would now join their project.
Large companies acquire struggling startups primarily to hire their engineers, a move known as “acqui-hire”, which is very common in Silicon Valley.
Apple is competing against rivals such as Alphabet Inc.’s Waymo to develop the autonomous vehicles. In the past year, Apple has improved its efforts by bringing former Tesla Inc. engineering chief Doug Field to supervise the operation, which involves more than 5,000 workers.
In addition to holding talks with the potential suppliers, Apple is focusing more on the key components such as sensors.