Tesla acquires AI startup DeepScale to help build self-driving robotaxis

Electric Cars

Tesla has acquired a small artificial intelligence startup called DeepScale in order to help build its self-driving technology and reach its goal of building a giant fleet of robotaxis.

CNBC is reporting that Tesla has acquired DeepScale, a Bay Area-based startup that focuses on “Deep Neural Network (DNN)”.

DeepScale CEO Forrest Iandola confirmed on LinkedIn that he joined Tesla as a “senior staff machine learning scientist”:

 “I joined the Tesla #Autopilot team this week. I am looking forward to working with some of the brightest minds in #deeplearning and #autonomousdriving.”

Furthermore, the publication says that two additional sources confirmed that DeepScale was acquired by Tesla and its small team will be joining the automaker.

The details of the deal are unknown, but the company recently raised a $15 million series A financing round.

DeepScale is known for having built a computer vision AI software for vehicles called Carver21:

“Carver21 is purpose built to scale to your perception needs whether enabling safety features or delivering autonomous driving functions.”

Here’s the CEO of the company giving a presentation about their deep neural net technology:

They specialized in computing power efficient deep learning systems, which is also an area of focus for Tesla who decided to design its own computer chip to power its self-driving software.

Here’s a quick demo of their low-cost and efficient object detection system:

The integration of DeepScale’s team is going to help Tesla staff its computer vision and deep learning departments in an extremely competitive hiring environment in these fields at the moment.

Tesla has historically had a lot of success in attracting top AI talent, but the success and high-profile status of the Autopilot program have also made it a prime poaching ground for the many other companies developing similar technologies.

Over the last few years, Tesla has lost many top Autopilot executives and engineers to companies like Nvidia, GM Cruise, Google, Lyft, and more.

The new team, including Iandola who has a PhD in electrical engineering and computer science at UC Berkeley, is going to boost Tesla’s manpower when it comes to AI and will likely work under Andrej Karpathy, Tesla’s head of AI and computer vision.

Tesla is currently trying to bring to market its full self-driving software after releasing what it believes is a full hardware suite capable of supporting the technology.

CEO Elon Musk believes that the first version of the software is going to be ready next year and will be tested with driver supervision until they can prove its reliability and get approval from the regulators.

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