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Uber Acquires AI Firm Geometric Intelligence

06 December 2016

Rideshare giant and autonomous vehicle pioneer Uber has announced the creation of Uber AI Labs, a new division of Uber based in San Francisco. The new division is a direct result of Uber’s acquisition of AI research startup Geometric Intelligence. The tech firm’s 15 employees will form the core of the AI Labs team, directed by Geometric’s founding CEO Gary Marcus, according to a press release issued by Uber.

Uber, AI, and Self-Driving Cars

uber-self-driving-car -  An Uber self-driving car tours the streets of Pittsburgh. / Image credit: Uber uber-self-driving-car - An Uber self-driving car tours the streets of Pittsburgh. / Image credit: Uber Uber has made great strides in the rollout and testing of autonomous vehicles recently, with fleets on the road in San Francisco, Phoenix, and Pittsburgh collecting data to make self-driving cars even safer and more reliable. Geometric’s expertise and advancements in AI could make it possible for Uber autonomous vehicles to do more with less data.

That’s the premise behind Geometric’s Xprop software, an advancement that permits computers to complete basic tasks with just one-quarter of the data most programs require. Still in development, the software is not yet as accurate as other programs using more data, but as it improves, it could help Uber self-driving cars reach the mainstream that much faster and reduce the amount of time required to “train” the vehicles in different cities.

Additionally, studies on deep generator networks are helping the experts at Geometric understand exactly what each neuron in a neural network is doing, further streamlining the learning process for AI. These advancements could also help correct driving habits the AI might mistakenly pick up from human drivers, such as over-correcting when a car starts to skid on icy roads.

Moving People and Things Faster

Uber has already disrupted an industry with the introduction of their ride-hailing service. This new acquisition and the formation of Uber AI Labs could put Uber at the front line in the autonomous vehicle race. And it’s driven by the vision that “moving people and things in the physical world can be radically faster, safer, and accessible to all,” said Chief Product Officer Jeff Holden in a statement.

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