Ride-hailing service, Uber, has purchased Geometric Intelligence, a two-year-old startup in a strategic move to bolster the company’s artificial intelligence capabilities. Details of the acquisition remain unclear, but Uber will move all 15 of the startup’s staff from New York to San Francisco.
The company will form Uber AI Labs.
Uber AI Labs will work on making the company’s self-driving fleet more intelligent. The team will focus on software for the company’s self-driving fleet. Accurate rider location estimates and travel times will also be a focus of the company.
Uber plans to offer a self-driving fleet to customers in the coming years.
Geometric Intelligence was founded by Gary Marcus, a New York University psychologist and Zoubin Ghahramani, a professor of information engineering at the University of Cambridge. The rest of the company’s thirteen employees consist of researchers from across the academic world.
Ghahramani is the only member of the company that will not move to San Francisco in the acquisition. He will remain in Cambridge and spend half of his time working for Uber. He is a key figure behind the startups success and is responsible for much of the company’s core technology.
Uber has been testing its self-driving fleet with customers in Pittsburg, where the company’s lab is located. The company was valued at $68 billion by investors earlier in the year. Recent acquisitions also include the purchase of Ottomoto LLC, a startup that focuses on self-driving long haul trucks.
Dr. Marcus confirmed that Uber AI Labs will start expanding aggressively, with the possibility of expanding into the U.K., too. The company will begin hiring as early as this week.
Geometric Intelligence was part of a tax-free program in New York State that allows startups to enjoy tax-free status if they pledge to invest $115,000 and add 42 new jobs to the state. The company’s relocation will require the company to forfeit their tax-free status.