Uber buys AI firm to advance push on autonomous cars

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Uber said Wednesday it has acquired computer vision startup Mighty AI to help advance its technology for self-driving cars.

Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed, but the ride-hailing giant said some 40 employees from the Seattle-based firm would join Uber’s advanced technology group developing plans for autonomous taxis.

Mighty AI specializes in computer vision, a field within artificial intelligence that is used to better understand or “label” the surroundings of vehicles that will be deployed autonomously.

“The team at Mighty AI has built technology to a label at scale using the latest AI and user experience techniques,” said Jon Thomason, vice president of software engineering for the Uber division.

“Training our AI at increasing pace is critical to scaling our self-driving technology, and I look forward to bringing Mighty AI’s technology together with our existing labeling automation expertise to help us move even faster.”

Daryn Nakhuda, Mighty AI’s chief executive, said in a statement released by Uber: “I’m excited to pair Mighty AI’s platform and expertise in generating high-quality labeled data with Uber ATG’s world-class research and engineering to accelerate the development of self-driving technology.”

Uber, which has become the most important ride-hailing operator, has been moving into new technologies that could see the deployment of autonomous vehicles and even flying cars in the coming years.

The news comes as Apple indicated had acquired self-driving tech startup Drive.ai to advance its own ambitions in the sector.

The news site Axios first reported the Apple deal for Drive.ai, saying the price would be below the $77 million raised by the startup. Apple, which has been testing its own autonomous technology, offered no details on the transaction.

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