Briefing: Apple acquires self-driving startup Drive.ai days before shutdown
Jun 26, 2019
What happened: Apple on Tuesday confirmed it has acquired the struggling self-driving startup Drive.ai, which was set to shut down after four years. Drive.ai’s Mountain View headquarters was to close and 90 employees laid off later this week. Apple is said to have purchased the company’s assets including its autonomous cars, and hired a “handful” of its hardware and software engineers to work at the company’s special projects division this month.
Why it’s important: Drive.ai was founded in 2015 by former graduate students from Stanford’s AI lab run by renowned AI expert and former Baidu chief scientist Andrew Ng. It developed self-driving software systems, using deep learning to avoid objects on the road. It later shifted focus to creating kits that converted regular cars into autonomous vehicles. In total, it raised about $77 million for a $200 million valuation, and was once considered one of the most promising self-driving car startups. Apple’s autonomous driving efforts have stuttered over the years, and it cut more than 200 employees from its AV initiative Project Titan earlier this year, CNBC reported.