Apple buys self-driving startup Drive.ai: Report

The startup shut down its operations a fortnight ago.

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(Image: Drive.ai)

Apple has reportedly bought autonomous driving startup, Drive.ai, in a bid to strengthen its autonomous vehicles push. 

According to Axios, Apple has reportedly hired dozens of Drive.ai's engineers and taken ownership of the startup's autonomous cars and other assets as part of the acquisition. 

The amount of the deal has not been disclosed.

Drive.ai shut down its operations a fortnight ago, according to a state regulatory filing.

See also: Apple sets a high bar for operators of its self-driving car (CNET)

Drive.ai was founded in 2015, and gained recognition in the tech community for making retrofit kits that could transform a traditional vehicle into an autonomous one. The kits use camera-based and LIDAR sensors, as well as a self-driving software stack grounded in deep learning.

In July last year, Drive.ai partnered up with the City of Frisco, Texas to launch its first autonomous pilot program. The startup then launched its second pilot program in Arlington, Texas. Users of the pilot programs could hail a ride from different fixed pick-up and drop-off locations around Frisco and Arlington, via a kiosk at the location or Drive.ai's app, for free before the company shut down.

Apple's acquisition of Drive.ai follows the company cutting 200 employees from its Project Titan self-driving car program at the start of the year. With the influx Drive.ai employees and assets however, it appears Apple still has plans to develop its autonomous vehicles department.

ZDNet has reached out to Apple for comment.

Meanwhile, Australian autonomous vehicle startup Baraja this week announced it has updated its LIDAR system so that it adheres to the ISO 9001:2015 certification, claiming the technology upgrade targets the long-term needs of the autonomous vehicle industry. The startup's product, Spectrum-Scan, uses shifting wavelengths of light to create "eyes" for autonomous vehicles to minimise interference with other sensors and vehicles. 

"Other approaches to LIDAR can rendor sensors 'blind' when facing on another ... but for Baraja's unique technology, interference has never been an issue," Baraja co-founder and CTO Cibby Pulikkaseril said.

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