Driving into the Future: Uber is Going into Artificial Intelligence

3:09 pm
0 Brooke Stevens
Uber recently acquired an AI startup – Geometric Intelligence, with intention to improve its self-driving technology.

Ever dreamed of a car that’ll know just where to go, without the need of any physical guidance? You’ll be thrilled to find out that Uber is now working to improve a technology that does just that, and more! The transportation network company declared on Monday that it bought a small-but-impressive AI startup, called Geometric Intelligence. The New York-based startup only employs 15 staff members, and is planned to launch a designated research lab that will be informatively called Uber AI Labs. Uber’s new AI extension will focus mainly on enhancing the efficiency of its self-driving vehicles, and also on improving its mutual-transportation and food-delivery services.

Why Now?

All the cool kids are doing it. Facebook, Google, Amazon and Apple already have their own AI labs, as these tech giants continuously develop their AI departments – creating their respective AI personas. Uber, being the cutting-edge company that it is, will naturally want to get on board with that. In addition, you may or may not know that the company has already been running its own pilot for self-driving cars in Pittsburg since September. These self-driven vehicles have been picking up and dropping off selected customers without any human operation, as the driver sitting in the driver’s seat is there just in case of emergency. Sounds pretty awesome, doesn’t it? Well, it appears that Uber is now seeking to make things even more awesome with its brand-new acquisition.

Self-Driving Car

What’s the Plan?

According to a blog post written by Uber’s Chief Product Officer, Jeff Holden, the new AI lab is meant to address the problem of “negotiating the real world.” This problem, according to Holden, manifests in a number of ways: “from determining an optimal route to computing when your car or UberEATS order will arrive to matching riders for UberPOOL.” Furthermore, and perhaps most importantly, the new lab is to improve Uber’s self-driving technology, addressing the challenge of “teaching a self-driven machine to safely and autonomously navigate the world.”

The acquisition of Geometric Intelligence is not the first self-driving-related acquisition Uber has made in 2016. Earlier this year, the company bought Otto, another startup company that makes self-driven trucks. That being said, it seems the company knows where it’s headed, and makes sure to do what it takes in order to get there.

The future sure looks promising for the aspiration-filled Uber when it comes to the ever-evolving AI field. According to Holden, the recent acquisition is driven by the company’s vision “that moving people and things in the physical world can be radically faster, safer and accessible to all.” If all goes well – this vision may become reality sooner than one would have imagined.