Uber has created a new division for research in Artificial Intelligence and machine learning following the acquisition of an research startup Geometric Intelligence. Initially, 15 members from the company will be the core AI Labs team. According to a Mint report, the lab’s team will report to Uber’s chief product officer Jeff Holden and work on algorithms which match drivers with passengers and self driving car techniques.
Geometric Intelligence was founded by Gary Marcus (CEO), Zoubin Ghahramani (chief science officer), Doug Bemis (CTO) and Ken Stanley (Chief Science Officer) who have experience in the fields of neural sciences, information engineering, machine learning, neurolinguistics and neuroevolution. TechCrunch reports that the startup was working on making AI systems work with smaller sets of data than required for object or scene recognition. It has received funding from Adam D’Angelo, Drew Houston, Fontinalis Partners, Jaan Tallinn and Liquid 2 Ventures among others.
Uber and autonomous cars
In August, Uber launched its self-driving cars in Pittsburgh, US, and deployed around 100 modified Volvo XC90s outfitted with self-driving equipment. For its autonomous transport plans, the company acquired the self-driving driving truck technology company Otto. The cab aggregator had first released a picture of it’s self driving car in May this year.
Earlier this year, Uber also tied up with Toyota to collaborate on autonomous technology for cars. Uber had initially opened a robotics research lab in Pittsburgh in 2015 to “kickstart autonomous taxi fleet development” and hired 40 researchers and engineers from Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) for this.
The rise of AI acquisitions
A number of technology companies have been acquiring AI and machine learning related startups. To name a few: Apple acquired Hyderabad based Tuplejump and UK based Perceptio. Google acquired French machine learning startup Moodstocks. Twitter had acquired London-based Magic Pony to enhance its machine learning capabilities in image processing. Last year, Facebook acquired Wit.ai, a San Francisco-based startup that developed a speech-recognition platform for different devices and offering it through APIs.
Three months ago, Amazon, Google, Facebook, IBM, Microsoft and Google’s DeepMind launched a Partnership on AI to support research including ethics, fairness and inclusivity, transparency, interoperability, privacy, collaboration of people and AI systems.
Also read: Wired’s Giant Corporations Are Hoarding the World’s AI Talent