Tesla has acquired Silicon Valley startup DeepScale, Inc., according to a CNBC report. The company, known for developing perceptual system technologies for automated vehicles, should help Elon Musk's vision to turn Tesla electric vehicles into "robotaxis" come to life.
Earlier this year, Musk revealed its plans to launch an autonomous ridesharing network by next year, and DeepScale appears to be an integral part of Tesla's plans. The business move could also help fill the gap left by the departure of several Autopilot engineers who reportedly left over the summer.
At present, Tesla vehicles cannot be called fully autonomous, or Level 4. The Levels of Driving Automation is designed by the Society of Automotive Engineers in which Level 4 means that the vehicle is capable of handling all driving aspects without human intervention.
Tesla cars are currently at Level 2. However, the company's Autopilot feature is considered more advanced than any other car in today's roads. Musk has been vocal of his intentions to improve the company's driver assistance features until it reaches the highest form of automation.
During Tesla's Autonomy Day in April, its CEO revealed that the current line of Tesla vehicles already have the hardware required to make them capable of full self-driving.
"All you need to do is improve the software," Musk said.
DeepScale can help improve the accuracy of a vehicle's perception system by utilizing deep neural networks on small, low-cost, automotive-grade processors and sensors. A perception system is responsible for planning, mapping, controlling, and sensing data and interprets it in real time, all of which are essential for autonomous vehicles to operate.
To put it simply, perception systems will help vehicles understand their surroundings.
This week, DeepScale CEO Forrest Iandola announced on Twitter that he has joined Tesla as a senior staff machine learning scientist. He also updated his LinkedIn page.
Previously, the startup raised more than $18 million from a number of investors, including Jerry Yang's AME Cloud Ventures, Code.org co-founder and investor Ali Partovi, Sun Microsystems co-founder Andy Bechtolsheim, Siemens-backed venture fund next47, and Steve Cohen's venture fund Point72.
Apart from DeepScale, Tesla has also acquired at least five other companies, including Maxwell Technologies, SolarCity, and a battery tech startup.