Google acquires UK startup DeepMind

Google has acquired London-based UK startup DeepMind in a deal reportedly worth $400m

Google has acquired London-based UK startup DeepMind in a deal reportedly worth $400m, further fuelling speculation that the internet firm aims to become a world leader in artificial intelligence.

The purchase price was first reported by technology news website Re/code, but neither Google nor DeepMind have disclosed or confirmed any financial details of the deal.

DeepMind, which specialises in algorithms and machine learning for e-commerce and games, was founded by Demis Hassabis, Shane Legg and Mustafa Suleyman in 2010.

News of the acquisition comes just two weeks after Google announced plans to acquire behaviour-learning thermostat maker Nest Labs in a $3.2bn deal.

In 2013, Google acquired robot-maker Boston Dynamics in December, gesture recognition startup Flutter in October, and neural networks startup DNNresearch in March.

In 2012, Google appointed futurist, inventor and entrepreneur Ray Kurzweil as head of an engineering team focused on machine learning and language processing, according to the BBC.

Google has also acquired a string of robotics firms that include Bot & Dolly, which specialises in precise-motion robotics and film-making; Industrial Perception, that focuses on 3D vision-guided robotic technologies; Meka Robotics; Redwood Robotics; and Japanese humanoid robotics firm IT Challenge: Preparing for warehouse robotics.

In December 2013, Google revealed it had acquired seven robotics companies in the second half of the year and had begun hiring staff to develop its own product.

The project is led by former Android head Andy Rubin, but the technology firm has not revealed any details of what the team will develop.

According to the New York Times, Google does not plan to sell the resulting product to consumers, but is expected to target manufacturing and retail.

However, in the light of the fact that Google has hired a team of engineers who make humanoid robots, the paper speculated that Google plans to use robots to automate the delivery of its self-driving cars.

The paper also speculated that Google plans to go head-to-head against Amazon's Prime Air Project, which envisages using drones to transport goods to its customers by air.

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