Self-Driving Tech Company Aurora Considering Sale to Apple: Report

Self-driving technology company Aurora Innovation could be open to being acquired by Apple — reports Automotive News.

Aurora went public late last year, but it has since struggled. While Aurora has been making steady progress in the development of its self-driving tech, the company has fallen short of some of its goals amidst worsening market conditions.

Aurora plans to have autonomous freight trucks on the road by 2024. The company currently has enough funding on hand for a runway into mid-2024, but it has been struggling to extend that runway and protect against the ongoing market downturn.

“Given the current macro conditions, every company should be going through the exercise of evaluating its options and long-term strategy,” a company spokesperson said Friday in an email.

“We think that thinking through things like this is a positive sign and a mark of good governance.”

Chris Urmson, CEO and co-founder of Aurora, floated a sale as a potential remedy to the company’s financial woes in a recent memo.

“Despite our best efforts to help our OEM partners meet our original schedule, their timelines have shifted out,” Urmson wrote. “We do have increased confidence in their new timelines given the selection and awarding of key suppliers and the attachment of key personnel to the projects.”

Urmson said in his memo that the company’s leadership is “disinclined to sell at this time.” However, he noted that could change if a competitive offer from a persuasive strategic buyer presents itself.

“Given our current stock price we should be an appealing target for any entity looking to own the future of automated driving,” Urmson wrote. “Of potentially appealing landing places, there are only a few: Apple, Microsoft, or potentially a Tier 1 [automotive supplier].”

In addition to being acquired, Aurora could also take the company private with a $1.5 billion USD funding round or sell its LiDAR business for $500 million to $1 billion to raise capital, Urmson said.

Among its bigger potential moves, Aurora could take the company private if it can find a partner who would anchor a $1.5 billion funding round, Urmson wrote. Aurora could also potentially sell its lidar business for $500 million to $1 billion, he said.

“While we continue to have ample runway, it’s important that we do what we can to extend that runway.”

Apple has never actually confirmed it is developing a car. However, the company has for years been rumoured to be working on a self-driving electric vehicle (EV) under the codename “Project Titan.”

Apple has slowed its pace of buying startups in the past couple of years and it is already developing its own self-driving tech. However, the iPhone maker might want to bring in Aurora’s expertise and technology to supplement its own.

According to reports, Apple has previously been in talks with LiDAR suppliers for Project Titan. As such, Aurora’s LiDAR business could be of interest to the tech giant as well.