Ex Baidu deep learn­ing chief sees fu­ture in AI

Hori­zon Ro­bot­ics founder says cut­ting edge prod­ucts will help fill vast fu­ture de­mand

China Daily (USA) - - CHINA - By MASI and OUYANG SHIJIA Con­tact the writ­ers at masi@chi­nadaily.com.cn and ouyang­shi­jia@ chi­nadaily.com.cn

Right be­fore Chi­nese tech gi­ant Baidu Inc started a road test of its self-driv­ing car last year, Yu Kai, who was in charge of Baidu’s au­tonomous driv­ing busi­ness, de­cided to leave and es­tab­lished his own com­pany, Hori­zon Ro­bot­ics Inc.

The goal was am­bi­tious: to de­velop tai­lor-made chips and op­er­at­ing sys­tems for ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence. The plan was for­mu­lated well be­fore Google Inc’s AI-pow­ered Al­phaGo de­feated a world cham­pion player of the an­cient strat­egy gameGo in­March 2015.

“We are de­vel­op­ing soft­ware so­lu­tions and hard­ware to­gether in the hope of bring­ing more AI into our lives,” Yu, also for­mer head of Baidu’s In­sti­tute of Deep Learn­ing, said in an in­ter­viewwith Chi­nese tech web­site 36kr.com.

In April, the com­pany raised an undis­closed amount of fund­ing from Yuri Mil­ner, the Rus­sian in­vestor who has bankrolled such in­ter­net gi­ants as Face­book Inc and Al­ibaba GroupHold­ings Ltd.

Ac­cord­ing to Yu, Hori­zon Ro­bot­ics aims to pro­vide prod­ucts that can sup­port the ap­pli­ca­tion of AI in dif­fer­ent in­dus­tries. He said ex­ist­ing sys­tems and chips can not of­fer enough com­put­ing and data pro­cess­ing power to drive AI-en­abled prod­ucts.

“By 2025, we will have AI in­side al­most ev­ery­thing,” he said. “Most cus­tomer elec­tronic de­vices will be­come ro­bots in broad terms. They will per­ceive the en­vi­ron­ment, have in­ter­ac­tions with hu­mans, make de­ci­sions and have mo­tion con­trols.”

To date the Bei­jing-based firm has un­veiled two ver­sions of AI sys­tems: the An­der­son plat­form for smart homes and the Hugo plat­form for smart driv­ing. Based on the two plat­forms, devel­op­ers can de­sign a va­ri­ety of ap­pli­ca­tions.

With the help of An­der­son, home ap­pli­ances such as re­frig­er­a­tors and TV sets can iden­tify users through

We are de­vel­op­ing soft­ware so­lu­tions and hard­ware to­gether in the hope of bring­ing more AI into our lives.”

for­mer head of Baidu’s au­tonomous driv­ing busi­ness

Yu Kai, face recog­ni­tion, “learn” from con­sumers’ habits and then au­to­mat­i­cally make de­ci­sions and ad­just­ments such as plac­ing new or­ders on­line when there is no milk left in the re­frig­er­a­tor.

As for Hugo, it is es­sen­tially an ad­vanced driver as­sis­tance sys­tem that can of­fer driv­ers real-time de­tec­tion in pedes­trian lanes and roads. It is ro­bust and can work in poor weather con­di­tions, in­clud­ing rain storms.

The com­pany said it ex­pects that the two sys­tems will be able to sup­port 1,000 types of elec­tric prod­ucts within 10 years. Yu said a lead­ing global auto parts sup­plier, who he would not iden­tify, had adopted the com­pany’s monoc­u­lar sens­ing tech­nol­ogy and they had signed a com­mer­cial con­tract.

Tan Tie­niu, a mem­ber of the Chi­nese Acad­emy of Science, said though the AI in­dus­try as a whole was still in its in­fancy, Al­phaGo’s his­toric vic­tory proved how far AI could go once it was fully com­mer­cial­ized.

“But it is im­por­tant to stay calm and sober-minded and put more ef­fort into re­search and devel­op­ment of key tech­nolo­gies,” Tan said.

He said the global AI mar­ket was worth some $127 bil­lion in 2015 and would ex­ceed $165 bil­lion in the cur­rent year.

CAO BOYUAN / FOR CHINA DAILY

Vis­i­tors seek help from a China Con­struc­tion Bank ro­bot, pre­sented at a fi­nan­cial expo in Bei­jing.

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