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Dec 06, 2016 07:00 AM EST

Uber Acquires Tiny Mysterious Startup To Boost AI-Machine Learning; Will Self-Driving Or Flying Cars Come Next?

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Uber, the San Francisco-based ride-sharing app, is getting closer to its self-driving ambitions. Uber this week has acquired Geometric Intelligence, a small two-year-old artificial intelligence startup that competes with the likes Google and Facebook in the emerging world of artificial intelligence.

Based in New York City, Geometric Intelligence is a tiny AI firm that redefined the boundaries of machine learning through innovative, patent-pending technique. The startup was founded by a group of noted AI scientists and leading machine learning pioneers, including University of Cambridge professor of information engineering Zoubin Ghahramani and New York University psychologist Gary Marcus.

According to TechCrunch, the 15 employees of the AI startup will now join the new Uber AI Labs in San Francisco, serving as the vast central AI lab for the ride-sharing mobile app. Ghahramani, the man responsible for the startup's core technology, will remain at Cambridge, working for Uber. Financial; terms of the deal were not disclosed, as Uber decided to remain tight-lipped.

The ubiquitous ride-sharing app envisions a future in which a fleet of vehicles can make the most complex decision without the help of a driver. To achieve that, Uber cars will need to get lots of smart and brains. This is where the new dedicated cutting-edge artificial intelligence and machine learning lab comes in. Uber on Monday introduced Uber AI Labs, a new Uber department that will focus on research in artificial intelligence and machine learning. The primary goal is to beef up its AI and machine learning capabilities.

Uber has been doing a lots machine learning recently. The company is taking a new direction, betting on the young but promising AI technology to help improve its ride-sharing service. Uber believes that AI can be a huge help in determining an optimal route for its Uber rides and UberEats deliveries, thus improving the service's ride arrival predictions.

Uber currently has a research team in Pittsburgh, but these teams are focused only on dealing issues related to autonomous driving. The newly-formed AI core team will be looking at AI more broadly, with a strong focus on research that's likely to have a profound impact across a wide range of potential applications, including route management.

As mentioned earlier by Digital Trends, Uber is not the only company that betting hard on AI and its myriad possibilities. Some of the tech world's biggest companies are also on the hunt, investing a significant amount of resources into the emerging technology.

Just like the online e-commerce giant Amazon, which transformed itself from an e-commerce company into a tech company that dominates the world of cloud computing, Uber is also transforming itself from a ride-hailing company into a tech company that does self-driving vehicles, top-notch machine learning, even flying cars.


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