Uber’s Silicon Valley shopping spree is continuing. The networked-transportation provider just acquired Geometric Intelligence.
Geometric Intelligence is an Artificial Intelligence (AI) research organization that claims to have been founded by a group of noted scientists and machine learning pioneers. Geometric will form the basis of Uber AI Labs, a venture that will focus on artificial intelligence and machine learning research.
Geometric Intelligence was co-founded by Gary Marcus; a professor of psychology and neural science at New York University, Zoubin Ghahramani, a professor of information engineering at England’s University of Cambridge, Doug Bemis a neurolinguistics expert, and Ken Stanely an associate professor of computer science at the University of Central Florida.
Uber is Developing an Intelligent Car
The four have assembled a team of machine learning researchers. The goal of Uber AI Labs “is teaching a self-driven machine to safely and autonomously navigate the world, whether a car on the roads or an aircraft through busy airspace or new types of robotic devices,” an Uber Blog indicates. Other uses of machine learning will be designing optimal routes and matching riders to UberPool.
Geometric Labs is currently located in New York but there seem to be plans to relocate it to San Francisco which is closer to Uber’s headquarters in Oakland. There the team from Geometric will form the basis of Uber AI Labs. Gary Marcus will be in charge of the new organization.
Uber has a number of ventures in robotics and AI in progress including a robotics lab in Pittsburgh and Otto Motors which is developing a self-driving semi-truck. One obvious purpose of Uber AI Labs will be to develop new control systems for the self-driving vehicles the company is testing in England and Pittsburgh.
Another is to develop technology that Uber can market to other companies. Despite all its success recent news reports indicate that Uber’s revenues are not covering its operating costs. The company will need to find new sources of income and means of attracting addition investments.
One way to do that is with new ventures such as Uber AI Labs. Whether investors will be willing to keep financing all of Uber’s research remains to be seen. An obvious means of making Uber making more attractive to investors is to develop an intelligent car.
That would also make it possible to sell Uber to a well-financed automaker such as Ford (NYSE: F) or Daimler. Ford has lots of cash and plans to market the world’s first truly self-driving car by 2022.