What’s happened in AI: February 1 – 8

By | February 10, 2018


Nvidia, Continental to develop self-driving system based on Nvidia Drive

  • “Nvidia has inked a deal with Continental to create self-driving vehicle systems built on the Nvidia Drive platform for the automaker’s car lineup starting in 2021″
  • “The companies will initially develop automated Level 2 features, including 360-degree perception, automatic lane changing on highways, and the ability to merge into traffic, as well as HD map integration integrate for vehicle localization and mapping updates”
  • “Xavier is Nvidia’s $2 billion R&D bet on automotive AI. The SoC (system on a chip) was built to process Level 5 autonomous driving data from a vehicle’s radar, cameras, Lidar, and ultrasonic systems. It has more than nine billion transistors with a custom 8-core CPU, a 512-core Volta GPU, an 8K HDR video processor, a deep-learning accelerator, new computer-vision accelerators, and the ability to perform 30 trillion operations per second on 30 watts of power”


Institute launches the MIT Intelligence Quest – Feb. 1, 2018 (MIT)

  • “MIT today announced the launch of the MIT Intelligence Quest, an initiative to discover the foundations of human intelligence and drive the development of technological tools that can positively influence virtually every aspect of society”
  • “Along with developing and advancing the technologies of intelligence, MIT IQ researchers will also investigate the societal and ethical implications of advanced analytical and predictive tools. There are already active projects and groups at the Institute investigating autonomous systems, media and information quality, labor markets and the work of the future, innovation and the digital economy, and the role of AI in the legal system”

Company developments:

Elon Musk expects to do coast-to-coast autonomous Tesla drive in 3 to 6 months – Feb. 8, 2018 (TechCrunch)

  • “Specifically, Musk said on an earnings call in response to a question about the autonomous drive that they’d “probably” be able to “do a coast-to-coast drive in three months, six months at the outside.” When asked whether this feature would then be immediately available to customers, he did say that it “will be a feature that’s available to customers,” without commenting directly on timing of availability”

Embark’s self-driving truck completes 2,400 mile cross-U.S. trip – Feb. 6, 2018 (TechCrunch)

  • “Embark’s autonomous trucking solution just demonstrated what it could be capable of in a big way: It make a coast-to-coast trip from L.A. to Jacksonville, Florida, driving 2,400 miles from one end of the U.S. to the other”
  • “This follows Embark‘s prior test route, which ran from L.A. to El Paso, and covers more than four times the distance of that initial path. Embark did the new cross-country trip in five days, but it included a safety driver on board behind the wheel, and because said driver has to be ready to take over control, the route involved scheduled rest brakes”

Foxconn to plug at least $340M into AI R&D over five years – Feb. 3, 2018 (TechCrunch)

  • “According to Nikkei, Foxconn intends to recruit up to 100 top AI experts globally. It also said it will recruit thousands of less experienced developers to work on building applications that use machine learning and deep learning technologies”
  • “Embedding sensors into production line equipment to capture data to feed AI-fueled automation development is a key part of the AI R&D plan, with Foxconn saying earlier that it wants to offer advanced manufacturing experiences and services — eyeing competing with the likes of General Electric and Cisco”
  • “The company has also been working with Andrew Ng’s new AI startup Landing.ai — which is itself focused on plugging AI into industries that haven’t yet tapping into the tech’s transformative benefits, with a first focus on manufacturing — since July”

Google says its AI can diagnose some eye diseases – Feb. 5, 2018 (Sky News)

  • “Google’s artificial intelligence company DeepMind says it is capable of diagnosing optical diseases by analysing retinal scans with its algorithms. DeepMind received a million retinal scans belonging to Moorfields Eye Hospital patients as part of a research study in 2016, according to the Financial Times”
  • “Google has submitted the findings of this study to a medical journal, according to the report, and the algorithm could be used to diagnose patients if the study passes peer review and clinical trials”
  • “In areas like medical imaging, you can see we’re going to make really tremendous progress in the next couple of years with artificial intelligence,” DeepMind’s clinical lead, Dominic King, told the Financial Times”


  • “The takeaway here is that Waymo’s software remains excellent, and it’s still doing tons of testing in California. For GM, you can see a huge ramp-up in miles driven, and a steep increase in miles per disengagement”
  • “GM plans to launch a car without a steering wheel or pedals next year. Keep in mind that GM does nearly all its public street testing in San Francisco, a much more complicated environment than Palo Alto and Mountain View, where Waymo works”

Trillium thwarts connected vehicle hackers – Feb. 2, 2018 (Freight Waves)

  • “What if someone developed a connected car technology that couldn’t be hacked? Trillium, an automotive cybersecurity company founded in Tokyo in 2014 and now located in Palo Alto, may have actually done it. Trillium’s patented software-based solution is called SecureIoT (Secure Internet of Things) and consists of multiple layers of encryption, authentication, key management, firewalls, over-the-air updates, and big data management modules”
  • “This past December, Trillium was named Most Promising Startup at CB Insights’ A-ha! innovation conference in San Francisco; two days ago they were demonstrating their product in Tel Aviv”

Fundraising / investment:

Lightmatter aims to reinvent AI-specific chips with photonic computing and $11M in funding – Feb. 5, 2018 (TechCrunch)

  • “It takes an immense amount of processing power to create and operate the “AI” features we all use so often, from playlist generation to voice recognition. Lightmatter is a startup that is looking to change the way all that computation is done — and not in a small way. The company makes photonic chips that essentially perform calculations at the speed of light, leaving transistors in the dust. It just closed an $11 million Series A”
  • “Competitors, are focused on squeezing every drop of performance out of semi-specialized hardware like GPUs, making AI-specific boards that outperform stock hardware but ultimately are still traditional computers with lots of tweaks”

Quizlet raises $20 million for AI-powered tutoring software – Feb. 6, 2018 (VentureBeat)

  • “Quizlet, an online learning company best known for its automated study tools, announced today that it is taking on $20 million in a series B round of funding to pursue artificial intelligence products”
  • “Quizlet has a ton of data to pull from. Its core product is designed to help users learn by repeatedly quizzing them on sets of data they submit, similar to what people can do with paper flash cards. (The company’s software differentiates itself from the traditional process by figuring out what people are having a hard time learning and focusing on that.)”

Paige.AI emerges with new funding – Feb. 6, 2018 (Pitchbook)

  • Paige.AI has launched out of stealth with $25 million in Series A financing. The startup, which is developing machine learning-powered technology to help doctors diagnose and treat cancer, has also entered an agreement with Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center to use its library of pathology slides”