Jun 25, 2019

Apple acquires self-driving startup Drive.ai

A Drive.ai van in Frisco, Tex. Photo: Kaveh Waddell/Axios

Apple bought Drive.ai, an autonomous driving startup once valued at $200 million, and has hired dozens of Drive.ai engineers, Apple confirmed to Axios on Tuesday.

Why it matters: The deal and hires confirm that Apple hasn't given up its autonomous driving project.

Details: The deal comes after Drive.ai talked with multiple potential acquirers, but in the end Apple won out. Apple also purchased Drive.ai's autonomous cars and other assets, sources tell Axios.

  • Drive.ai ceased operations within the last 2 weeks.
  • Apple’s hires are mostly in engineering and product design, per a source.

The purchase price was not disclosed. Apple was expected to pay less than the $77 million Drive.ai raised in venture capital, to say nothing of the $200 million it was valued at two years ago, after its Series B round, Axios' Dan Primack reported recently.

The backdrop: Drive.ai's highlighter-orange vans ferried workers around a business park in Frisco, Tex., and shuttled fans in nearby Arlington to Cowboys games.

Drive.ai is laying off 90 workers in California, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. And the company employed many more in Texas.

Go deeper

Zipline drones deliver masks to hospitals; vaccines could be next

Zipline's drone drops medical supplies via parachute. Image courtesy of Zipline.

Zipline, a California drone company, has made its U.S. debut by delivering medical supplies to hospitals in North Carolina under a pilot program honed in Africa.

Why it matters: The effort, made possible by a waiver from the Federal Aviation Administration to Novant Health, is the nation's longest-range drone delivery operation and could demonstrate how drones could be used in future pandemics, Zipline officials said.

NHL unveils 24-team playoff plan to return from coronavirus hiatus

Data: NHL; Table: Axios Visuals

The NHL unveiled its return-to-play plan on Tuesday, formally announcing that 24 of its 31 teams will return for a playoff tournament in two hub cities, if and when medically cleared.

Why it matters: Hockey is the first major North American sports league to sketch out its plans to return from a coronavirus-driven hiatus in such detail, and it's also the first one to officially pull the plug on its regular season, which will trigger ticket refunds.

Rising home sales show Americans are looking past the coronavirus

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Americans are behaving very differently than they have in previous recessions — convinced that the coronavirus pandemic will soon pass, many continue to spend money as if nothing has changed.

Driving the news: The latest example of this trend is the Commerce Department's new home sales report, which showed home sales increased in April despite nationwide lockdowns that banned real estate agents in some states from even showing listed houses.