Apple has rescued Drive.ai days before it was about to die and gained a lot of know-how for self-propelled cars by taking over the startup. Is the Apple Car still coming?
The fact that Apple has been working on autonomous car projects for years is well known. With the takeover of the startup, Drive.ai, this division is getting a new boost. A few weeks ago it became known that Apple was interested in Drive.ai, the value of which was once around $200 million. With this takeover, Apple is saving the company, which was founded in 2015, from bankruptcy. Without the deal this week, Drive.ai would have laid off 90 employees and presumably ceased operations. Artificial intelligence is a tough business.
Drive.ai became known for its idea of a ride-sharing service with completely self-propelled cars. In test operations on defined routes, the company had already allowed autonomous vehicles to roll without a human driver. The Drive.ai vehicles had successfully completed these dangerous tests, which are now easier to carry out in Florida. The startup does not build its own cars, but retrofits existing Nissan NV200 vehicles with its own technology.
It remains to be seen what exactly Apple's plan will be following the takeover. Building a complete car itself is not on Apple's agenda. The necessary production lines and developments are clearly too expensive and are unlikely to be profitable even in the long run. Cooperation with an established automotive group seems more likely. The technology developed by Drive.ai should be extremely helpful here.
The battle for the bright minds
The takeover is another example of the fierce battle for bright minds and important patents that is currently raging in the field of artificial intelligence. Many of the large technology companies that play a decisive role in AI development are on a shopping spree for smaller companies and startups in order to increase their own know-how as quickly as possible. In addition to Apple, Amazon, Google, Microsoft and Facebook also use this tactic.
Source: The Verge