Apple hires top Drive.ai talent as self-driving startup shuts down

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Drive.ai self-driving car
Drive.ai is dead.
Photo: Drive.ai

Self-driving car startup Drive.ai is reportedly shutting down — and Apple is scooping up the talent.

Drive.ai, which made kits that turn regular cars into self-driving cars, notified the Employment Development Department of California that it was shutting down and laying off all 90 of its employees. Apple was reportedly looking into acquiring the company earlier this month. Instead, Cupertino decided to just hire some of its key employees.

“So far, five former Drive.ai employees have changed their LinkedIn profiles to say they left Drive.ai in June and joined Apple the same month,” reports the San Francisco Chronicle. “Four of those workers list ‘special projects’ in their job titles. Those employees include data, systems and software engineers.”

Drive.ai was valued at $200 million just two years ago. Now it plans to shut its offices in Mountain View, California, by Friday. The company set itself apart from other self-driving car startups by offering a kit that included radar, cameras and Lidar systems that could be retrofitted onto older cars.

The company offered a self-driving shuttle service in Arlington, Texas, that transported customers on a fixed route to AT&T stadium. The project was supposed to run until October but was stopped on May 31.

Apple’s self-driving car project has hit a number of road bumps over the last five years. Earlier this year, the company fired or reassigned about 200 hardware engineers that were working on the project. It appears that the company is expanding its efforts now, focusing mostly on the software side of the project.