In the midst of their legal battle with Google’s self-driving car faction, Waymo, Uber Technologies has begun to put an Artificial Intelligence (AI) team together in Toronto, Canada. Building this team in Toronto is to help improve Uber’s autonomous vehicle software. It will be a part of the Advanced Technologies Group, a unit dedicated to developing much of Uber’s autonomous technology.
Uber’s new team will be led by Raquel Urtasun, an AI expert in the field of machine learning and computer vision at the University of Toronto. In addition to that, the ride-share company will be investing $5 million over the next several years in the Vector Institute for Artificial Intelligence, a non-profit that’s affiliated with the university. A lot of the research talent in Toronto had actually defected to the U.S., but the city had set up an urban innovation hub in order to slow down any further “brain drain.”
Urtasun has been brought on to help Uber continue to build out software that will allow autonomous cars to perceive the world them. The goal is for the vehicle to comprehend everything from color of stoplights to whether a traffic cop is telling it to stop or go. While she’s working with Uber, she will be taking a leave of absence from the University, but will still work there at the Vector Institute, once a week.
While the fate of ride-sharing company’s future is in the hands of Judge William Alsup, who is currently presiding over the lawsuit between Uber and Waymo, Uber is still focused on rolling out the best software they can, wherever they can. The judge is expected to make a decision regarding whether or not to issue a preliminary injunction against Uber’s autonomous program, as early as next week. His ruling might only effect the hardware component, LiDar, which would luckily not touch the software work done by Urtasun’s team. Hopefully this will end up being another step in the right direction for Uber.