Report: Apple to Buy Drive.ai

Apple Inc. is in the process of acquiring Drive.ai, a Silicon Valley-based startup specializing in artificial intelligence-based software for autonomous vehicles, sources tell The Information.

No timetable or financial details were provided about the plan. Apple and Drive.ai declined to comment.

The deal would give Apple access to Drive.ai’s neural network technology and engineering staff, some of whom could join Apple’s secretive Project Titan team. TI says the 4-year-old startup had more than 100 employees in February.

Drive.ai, which was valued at about $200 million two years ago, has been seeking a buyer for several months, according to TI. The company raised $77 million in early investment rounds but hasn’t announced any additional funding.

Drive.ai is testing self-driving vehicles equipped with its technology in California and Texas. Pilot programs in two Texas cities operate Nissan NV200 vans as self-driving shuttles (with backup drivers) along fixed routes.    

Apple hasn’t said whether Titan is focused on control software for autonomous cars or strives to develop an entire self-driving vehicle. The company has given mixed signals about the program in recent months.

In January, Apple confirmed it was transferring about one-sixth (200 engineers) of Titan’s staff to other projects. But since then the company has made several high-profile hires for the team and filed reports, which detail Apple’s self-driving test programs in California, with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and California Dept. of Motor Vehicles.