Apple Buys Self-Driving Car Startup Drive AI Before it Closes Texas image

Apple opened its war chest to purchase a startup named Drive AI that specializes in developing the technology needed to power self-driving cars. The acquisition — which some see as an aqui-hire — represents the latest turn in the tech giant’s rocky road towards releasing autonomous technology.

An Apple representative confirmed the purchase, but the company refused to reveal how much it paid for four-year old Drive AI. This isn’t a merger of equals, though. The San Francisco Chronicle learned Drive AI had notified California regulators that it planned to shut down by the end of June 2019 and lay off about 90 employees. Apple saved a company that had only a few days left to live. Viewed in that light, the deal might have been too good to pass up.

Like dozens of comparable firms launched in the 2010s, Drive AI was founded to develop the hardware and software needed to achieve autonomy. It tested its Nissan NV200-based prototypes on public roads without major incidents, and it operated two ride-hailing pilot programs in Texas. In late 2018, Digital Trends reported Drive AI planned a quick expansion into other cities, but the scope of its pilot programs didn’t grow. The…

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