Uber Creates AI Labs; Buys Startup To Staff It

Ride-hailing app startup Uber announced Monday (Dec. 5) the creation of Uber AI Labs, which is a new unit of Uber that will be based in San Francisco and focused on research in artificial intelligence and machine learning. In conjunction with the new unit, Uber also announced it is acquiring Geometric Intelligence, an AI research startup that is 15-strong and will create the initial core of the AI Labs team.

“Uber is in the business of using technology to move people and things in the real world. With all of its complexity and uncertainty, negotiating the real world is a high-order intelligence problem. It manifests in myriad ways, from determining an optimal route to computing when your car or UberEATS order will arrive to matching riders for uberPOOL. It extends to 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,” Uber wrote in a blog post announcing the initiative. “In spite of notable wins with machine learning in recent years, we are still very much in the early innings of machine intelligence.”

Uber said the formation of Uber AI Labs, to be directed by Geometric’s Founding CEO Gary Marcus, represents the startup’s commitment to its vision “that moving people and things in the physical world can be radically faster, safer and accessible to all.” Uber isn’t the only one making a bigger push when it comes to AI. Amazon announced last week the launch of its new Amazon AI platform, which brings machine-learning technologies to developers. Amazon launched the Amazon AI platform at its re:Invent developer event held in Las Vegas. In the beginning, the new service will make three tools available for developers, but more will be included in the future.