Fanuc Invests in Startup as Robot Intelligence Race Heats Up
(Bloomberg) — Fanuc Corp. announced a 900 million yen ($7.3 million) investment in artificial intelligence startup Preferred Networks Inc. as the race to endow industrial robots with learning capabilities heats up.
The world’s largest maker of automation equipment will use Preferred Networks’ machine learning techniques to create robots that can independently detect and correct production flaws, the companies said in a statement on Friday. They will also develop robots that cooperate with each other and share acquired knowledge with other machines via the cloud.
So-called deep learning algorithms, inspired by the way living things process information, are allowing Amazon.com Inc., Facebook Inc. and Google Inc. to analyze customer data by minimizing human involvement. Now hardware companies from Fanuc’s rival ABB Ltd. to Toyota Motor Corp. and Samsung Electronics Co. are partnering with or investing in AI companies to add problem-solving capabilities to their products.
Fanuc expects to complete the investment by the end of September when it will hold 6 percent of Preferred Networks, the companies said.
–With assistance from Jack Clark in San Francisco.
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