Uber purchases artificial intelligence startup
Uber Technologies Inc. continued to make its case that self-driving cars are the future after buying Geometric Intelligence Inc.
According to Bloomberg, the acquisition is one part of Uber's larger push toward artificial intelligence and machine learning. The ride-booking service also announced it's creating a new research unit called Uber AI Labs, which will be led by New York University professor of psychology and neural science, Gary Marcus (also the founder of Geometric Intelligence).
Uber's purchase all but solidifies the company's position on AI and the future it's pursuing.
Uber and self-driving cars
Uber is no stranger to driverless cars, as the company conducted a handful of trial runs in Pittsburgh during September. Yet, Geometric Intelligence's software is what Uber views as a key component toward making self-driving cars more efficient.
Geometric Intelligence was originally founded two years ago and currently has a staff of 15, some of whom have an extensive background in machine learning and computer science. They haven't released any products yet. Even so, Uber sees great potential in the small startup.
According to Wired magazine, Geometric Intelligence is working to create a deep learning system that would beat offerings from Facebook and Google. However, the startup has yet to provide any further details on its technology.
Uber's purchase of a secret company is eye opening because even with few details available, the move continues the company's trend of investing in artificial intelligence.
A changing future with AI
At its core, Uber remains a ride-booking service, but it may not always be this way. Uber's moves have laid the foundation of a transition into a company that focuses on transportation and AI.
In August, the company bought Ottomotto LLC, a company specializing in self-driving semitrailers and shortly thereafter, an autonomous truck made its first delivery. The purchase of Otto and Geometric Intelligence seemingly represent Uber's desire to take advantage of disruptive technologies, Uber chief product officer Jeff Holden told Wired.
"If you look into the future, there are going to be step-function changes in artificial intelligence that will affect business models and business opportunities," said Holden.
According to Wired, Uber may be positioning itself as a company specializing in machine learning that happens to offer transportation services. If they pursue this path, Uber would seek to join the Big Four: Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google.
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