Apple has officially entered the nascent, but soon-to-be competitive space of autonomous vehicles with the purchase of startup Drive.ai. The Silicon Valley startup raised $77 million in venture funding at a $200 million valuation, according to Pitchbook data.

Apple was already in the exploratory stages of entering the self-driving vehicle space with an initiative known as Project Titan, but in January, Apple cut over 200 employees from this project. In turn, Apple hired a number of Drive.ai engineers and purchased its vehicles.

Prior to the purchase, Apple doubled the number of self-driving test cars in the streets of California. In March of this year, Apple had 45 autonomous test vehicles registered with the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles, which is up from 27 near the end of January.

Per a report by Axios, 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.”

Drive Towards Gains with this ETF

The disruptive exchange-traded fund (ETF) space continues to grow and investors can now take advantage of self-driving, electric vehicle technology via the iShares Self-Driving EV and Tech ETF (NYSEArca: IDRV).

Per the iShares website, the fund will provide prospective investors with:

  • Access to companies at the forefront of self-driving and electric vehicle (EV) innovation
  • Exposure to global stocks along the full value chain of self-driving and EV industries, across sectors and geographies
  • Seek long-term growth with access to companies that can shape the global economic future

IDRV seeks to track the investment results of an index composed of developed and emerging market companies that may benefit from growth and innovation in and around electric vehicles, battery technologies and autonomous driving technologies. Specifically, it tracks the NYSE FactSet Global Autonomous Driving and Electric Vehicle Index (the “Underlying Index”), which measures the performance of equity securities issued by companies that produce autonomous driving vehicles, electric vehicles, batteries for electric vehicles, or technologies related to such products.

With an expense ratio of 0.47 percent, IDRV will invest in domestic and international markets per its prospectus, which states that, “the Underlying Index is composed of equity securities of companies listed in one of 43 developed or emerging market countries that derive a certain specified percentage of their revenue from selected autonomous or electric vehicle-related industries, as defined by IDI.”

Though the technology itself might still be years away, investors can still capitalize on this nascent space that is already seeing major deals taking place. For example, remote driving startup Phantom Auto raised $13.5 million in seed capital, which will be used to expand a logistics business that will utilize sidewalks, warehouses and cargo yards where autonomy and teleoperation are already used.

The ETF launch comes as the move to disruptive technology is making its way into a number of ETF offerings that are looking to capitalize on the next wave of technology. Disruptive technology is not relegated to certain sectors as it will permeate into all industries in some form or fashion.

For example, augmented reality is technology comprised of digital images superimposed over the real world, and its use is primed to drive industry growth–industries like real estate and manufacturing are already putting the technology to use in a variety of ways.

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