Apple, the Cupertino, California technology giant, is reportedly interested in acquiring Drive.ai, which was launched to develop self-driving taxis, in an effort to push further into the self-driving vehicle market.
CNBC, citing The Information, reported that if Apple was to acquire Drive.ai, it would gain dozens of engineers. The company has raised $77 million to date and had a valuation of $200 million in 2017, noted the report.
Drive.ai has been in restructuring mode, replacing the CEO and reining in its ambitions a bit. Apple’s autonomous vehicle group is also undergoing change. CNBC reported in January that it laid off more than 200 workers from its Project Titan group, which is led by Doug Field, the former Tesla engineering executive.
This isn’t the only move Apple is making in the self-driving car market that is sparking speculation. In April, Reuters reported that Apple held discussions with suppliers of lidar, a sensor that gives drivers a 3D view of the road. Apple wants the sensor to be smaller, less expensive and easier to mass-produce than what is currently available. One person told the outlet that Apple is calling for a “revolutionary design.”
According to the report, it’s still unclear whether Apple will build its own car under Project Titan or if it plans to be a supplier to automobile manufacturers. As one source told the news outlet, the fact that Apple is looking for cheaper lidar sensors implies it wants to control the design of the car regardless of who makes it. Apple is said to have its own lidar sensor development in-house while it also talks to suppliers.