I had to check the A&R archives to see if we have even mentioned Lit Motors before, mostly because the the San Francisco startup has been slow to develop its self-balancing motorcycle, and I’m not terribly bullish on the project.
That doesn’t mean the concept is without merit though, and its apparently caught the interest of Apple. If that sounds strange to you, then you need to understand that Apple, along with a bevy of other tech giants, is working on an autonomous car for the masses.
This “Project Titan” as it’s called, has already seen Apple poach a couple of Lit Motors’ personnel, and now the most valuable company in the world is looking at acquiring Lit Motors, and/or other automotive entities, according to the New York Times.
What is not clear is whether Apple is interested in building upon Lit’s enclosed motorcycle, which uses two gyroscopes to keep the machine upright; if Apple is looking to acquire Lit for its intellectual property; or if Apple is trying some sort of acquhire play, where it buys a company for its people and their talents.
We should caution that rumors about business deals like this often work on the useful idiot premise, and it certainly wouldn’t be the first time such a move was played in the motorcycle industry. But, the story here is certainly interesting enough for more analysis.
The rise of autonomous vehicles has happened quicker than anyone expected, thanks primarily to the efforts of companies like Tesla and Google.
Self-driving cars are going to be a massive paradigm shift for the United States, with transportation likely to become a commodity.
This is why we are seeing media-focused companies entering this space. The ride will no longer be about how your car drives, but what you can do while you’re in it.
This has some interesting implications for the automotive industry, which is seemingly rushing off to its own commoditization, and thus its irrelevance. It also has some interesting implications for the motorcycle industry, some of which we’ve already covered here at Asphalt & Rubber.
From what we can read between the lines here on Apple’s Project Titan, the company could be looking at a more efficient form-factor for autonomous people-movers.
Where Lit Motors fails as a “motorcycle company” it actually excels as being a promising “two-wheeled car company”. Take a look the next time you make your commute into work and notice how many vehicles with a single occupant share the road with you (you might even be in one yourself).
A vehicle like the Lit Motors C-1, when coupled with autonomous features, could make great strides in reducing both physical congestion and route congestion on motorways – taking up less space on the road to move a single person, and communicating with other autonomous vehicles to optimize traffic flow.
That’s perhaps the most compelling argument for a Lit Motors acquisition by Apple, though time will tell.
Source: New York Times