Tesla Buys AI Startup DeepScale in Order to Build Self-Driving Robotaxis

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by Teuta Franjkovic · 3 min read
Tesla Buys AI Startup DeepScale in Order to Build Self-Driving Robotaxis
Photo: Unsplash

Tesla is acquiring AI startup DeepScale. Forrest Iandola, DeepScale’s CEO, said on LinkedIn that he joined Tesla’s Autopilot team, which has lost many executives and engineers to companies like Nvidia, GM Cruise, Google, Lyft, and more.

Tech giant Tesla announced buying of DeepScale, a computer vision start-up that the company hopes to help in further evolving of fully driverless vehicles.

This acquisition, Tesla hopes, will help the company in their focusing on delivering cars with evolved driver-assistance systems that would be optimal for owners to put them in the traffic acting as “robotaxis” on an Uber-like platform without drivers.

Still, as most of the car producers, Tesla is pretty much bounded with arithmetic operations it can actually compose into its vehicles’ program.

DeepScale is the company whose technology was made in order to help car producers utilize low-wattage processors (that are now a standard in most of the cars) to empower very precise computer vision. These processors work together with “sensors, mapping, planning and control systems”, to authorize vehicles to solely decide what’s going on around them.

This week, DeepScale CEO Forrest Iandola started cooperating with Tesla as a senior staff machine learning scientist.
Iandola commented:

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

Iandola has a PhD in electrical engineering and computer science that he finished at UC Berkeley, where he worked on possibilities of integration of deep neural nets with the mobile devices that contain relatively small quantities of memory.

Sources familiar with the new deal said Tesla acquired the company completely. However, they didn’t disclose all the terms of the deal.

The buying should help fill the talent gap in Tesla’s Autopilot group because this summer, eleven engineers left the team following the group leader Stuart Bowers who left already in May.

As per the announcement, DeepScale managed to raise $15 million in a Series A round that was previously led by Steve Cohen’s venture fund Point72, and Siemens-backed venture fund next47. It also raised $3 million seed round from Sun Microsystems co-founder Andy Bechtolsheim, Code.org co-founder and investor Ali Partovi, and Jerry Yang’s AME Cloud Ventures among others.

In the last few years, Tesla bought five other companies including SolarCity in 2016, and a battery tech venture, Maxwell Technologies, earlier this year.

Stock Price Rebounding Amid Acquisition and Higher Deliveries

At the time of writing, TSLA stock price showed signs of bouncing back after experiencing pressure during the first half of the year. The stock is receiving support from its aggressive growth strategies. It was up 1.59% to $244.69.

Let’s also not forget that last week stocks jumped almost 8% amid the news of a leaked email from CEO Elon Musk that revealed the company may set new records for vehicle deliveries.

Some analysts have been saying that a delivery report of at least 95,000 for the third quarter would be positive news for Tesla, and that investors could decide on buying shares if the company succeeds in reaching that goal.

If the company succeeds to go over 100,000 vehicles delivered for its third quarter (that is expected to report at its third-quarter earnings call this week) there are pretty optimistic previews ahead for the company’s stock.

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Teuta Franjkovic

Experienced creative professional focusing on financial and political analysis, editing daily newspapers and news sites, economical and political journalism, consulting, PR and Marketing. Teuta’s passion is to create new opportunities and bring people together.

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