Apple is reportedly mulling a purchase of self-driving car startup Drive.ai in an ‘acqui-hire’ deal to grab its talent.
Drive.ai is full of skilled personnel after being founded in 2016 by a pioneering team of graduates from Stanford’s AI lab. With AI talent in short supply, it seems Apple is considering purchasing a whole company to get the skills on its side.
Apple would not get any of Drive.ai’s intellectual property as part of the deal, only the minds behind it. While it’s unclear what Apple is considering paying for the startup, the company was believed to be valued at ~$200 million during a VC round in 2017.
The fact Apple is scoping out talent from a driverless car firm shows Cupertino’s continued interest in the area.
Back in January, Apple pulled around 200 employees off its self-driving car project which made some people question whether Cupertino had the ability (and resolve) to break into such an established industry with a minefield of regulatory needs that vary from location-to-location.
A self-driving car being tested by Apple had a rear-end collision with another vehicle last year. Fortunately, unlike Uber’s self-driving car incident, there were no injuries.
During an interview with CNN last November, Apple CEO Tim Cook expressed that his company is focused on the software side of autonomous vehicles. Acquiring talent from Drive.ai is a surefire way of boosting Apple’s in-house expertise in applying machine learning to cars.
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