Apple is potentially seeking to acquire Silicon Valley autonomous driving startup Drive.ai, according to a new report from The Information. The report describes the acquisition as in process, and says it will be an “acqui-hire,” which means its primary goal is to bring in the talent of Drive.ai — with presumably special focus on the engineering talent of the self-driving tech company.
Drive.ai got its start in 2016, founded by a crack team of graduates from Stanford’s AI lab. It focused originally on building out not only the functional autonomy of driving systems, but also intelligent communications systems that would help self-driving vehicles better integrate with existing human drivers and pedestrians.
The company later raised more money with a business model shift focused on retrofitting existing fleets of commercial vehicles, and last year began testing its own self-driving pick-up and drop-off service in Frisco, Texas.
The Information reported earlier this year that Drive.ai started seeking potential buyers for the company after finding fewer options in terms of continued funding and independent operation. Apple, for its part, has had a spotty history with its own efforts around autonomous driving, with some high-profile leadership shifts on its so-called “Titan” car project. It’s still actively testing vehicles on roads, but the scope and shape of its approach aren’t entirely clear.
We’ve reached out to both Apple and Drive.ai, which declined to comment to The Information regarding the original report, and will update if we hear back.