Apple acquires self-driving startup Drive.ai

The iPhone maker has acquired the startup's assets and hired many of its engineers.

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Drive.ai hit the streets of Arlington, Texas, last year.


Apple has acquired Drive.ai, an autonomous driving startup, in an effort to bolster its self-driving car ambitions. The iPhone maker has hired dozens of Drive.ai's engineers and taken possession of the company's cars and other acquisitions as part of the deal, Apple said Wednesday, confirming an Axios report.

The startup -- once valued at more than $200 million -- shut down its operations in mid-June, according to a California regulatory filing. Axios said Apple confirmed the acquisition, but the site didn't report terms of the deal.

The deal suggests that Apple hasn't abandoned its Project Titan self-driving car program. In January, Apple reportedly cut more than 200 employees from the secretive program. However, according to data compiled by Thinknum, Apple's hiring on the autonomy front has been on the increase again of late.

The Mountain View, California-based company launched in 2015, developing a retrofit kit to add autonomous driving systems to existing cars.

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Last July, Drive.ai launched its first self-driving shuttle service in Frisco, Texas. The free program relied on Drive.ai's new app, which allowed its users to hail a ride in one of Drive.ai's self-driving vans.

Those vans were a little different from the ones with Waymo livery. Drive.ai's included boxy outcroppings on each side that let people around the vehicle know what's going on, whether it's idling at a crosswalk as someone passes or parked on the side of the road waiting on a customer.

Drive.ai engineered its pilot program with the help of Frisco's local transit authority, spending a great deal of time preparing the cars themselves. The company spent four months traveling every inch of its geofenced route, including parking lots.

Originally published June 25 at 10:28 p.m. PT
Updated June 26 with Apple confirmation and Thinknum metrics.

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