Apple is currently in the process of acquiring a self-driving car startup called Drive.ai, according to a new report from The Information. The report claims that the acquisition is an “acquir-hire,” which is to say that Apple is more so interested in the company’s employees than the company’s existing technology.
The report further adds that the deal, once finalized, “could result in dozens of Drive.ai engineers ending up at Apple” and that the company’s engineering talent would “boost Apple’s own development of a self-driving vehicle system.”
For those unfamiliar, Drive.ai is a California-based start-up that leverages advanced AI in order to make self-driving cars. Interestingly, the company launched a limited self-driving rideshare service in Texas last year whereby passengers could ride in Level 4 self-driving vehicles in a contained area.
As for what Apple’s long-rumored automotive ambitions will bring to the table, that remains anybody’s guess. Over the past few years, it’s been widely reported that Project Titan has seen a number of rounds of layoffs amid lackluster progress. And while early reports indicated that Apple was hoping to design its own car from the ground up, more recent rumblings suggest that Apple, for the time being, is focusing exclusively on self-driving car technologies.
Hardly a well-kept secret, Tim Cook admitted as much during a 2017 interview with Bloomberg.
“We’re focusing on autonomous systems,” Cook said. “It’s a core technology that we view as very important. It’s probably one of the most difficult A.I. projects actually to work on.”
Interestingly, reputed analyst Ming-Chi Kuo earlier this year issued an investor not claiming that an Apple-branded car could hit the streets as early as 2025. Kuo’s stellar track record notwithstanding, it’s hard to imagine this actually panning out on Kuo’s timeframe.