Uber Technologies Inc. said it acquired AI research startup Geometric Intelligence, whose 15 members will form the initial core team of Uber AI Labs, a new division based in San Francisco dedicated to cutting-edge research in artificial intelligence and machine learning.

“Uber is in the business of using technology to move people and things in the real world,” said Jeff Holden, chief product officer at Uber Technologies.

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,” commented Holden. “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.”

In spite of notable wins with machine learning in recent years, Uber is still very much in the early innings of machine intelligence. The formation of Uber AI Labs, to be directed by Geometric’s founding CEO Gary Marcus, represents Uber’s vision that moving people and things in the physical world can be radically faster, safer and accessible to all.

Marcus, a research psychologist whose work focuses on language, biology, and the mind, is a professor in the Department of Psychology at New York University and Director of the NYU Infant Language Center.

Photo: Geometric Intelligence founding CEO Gary Marcus, Director of Uber AI Labs.

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