Apple is preparing to acquire Drive.ai, an autonomous vehicle startup, providing it with access to more engineers with experience of the world of self-driving technology, according to a report by Bloomberg.
Drive.ai was founded in 2015 and has raised $77m during its four-year lifespan. It was valued at $200m in 2017.
Apple is reportedly not going to be using any intellectual property from the startup and is instead planning to pick which Drive.ai staff it wants to keep on to work on its own projects. This may only be a handful of engineers, the report noted, because Apple's driverless vehicle technology is actually more advanced than Drive.ai's, according to Bloomberg's sources.
It has not been revealed how much Apple is intending to pay for the firm, but Loop Ventures Apple analyst Gene Munster wrote in a research note that he believes "the potential acquisition price would be below their last $200m valuation".
Both companies have declined to comment on the potential deal.
Apple has been working on driverless vehicles for several years now in a secretive programme dubbed "Project Titan". In August last year Ming-Chi Kuo, a veteran Apple analyst for TF International Securities, predicted that the tech giant wouldbe launching an Apple car between 2023–25. It was reported in October 2018 that Apple was working on an efficient, self-driving vehicle convoy system named "Peloton".
However, early this year, the company announced it was laying off 190 employees from its self-driving car division . The news of Drive.ai's acquisition suggests that Apple is refocusing its efforts on delivering the Apple Car over the coming years.