Exit: Israeli startup SAIPS bought by Ford to advance autonomous cars

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Congratulations to Israeli startup SAIPS, which announced on Tuesday that it has been acquired by auto industry powerhouse Ford. Founded in 2013, SAIPS develops computer vision and machine learning solutions.

The price for the acquisition was not published, but is believed to be in the tens of millions of dollars. Before the acquisition, SAIPS had received no external investments because the company’s entrepreneurs were its sole investors.

SAIPS will work on Ford’s vision of an autonomous car by 2021

SAIPS will operate as an independent Ford subsidiary, and continue to serve its existing customers in Israel and around the world. These customers come from a broad range of industries: aviation and space, medical equipment, semiconductors, biometric security, mobile, internet, sports, games, etc. The Israeli company will continue its own business, in addition to expanding its activity in the framework of Ford’s autonomous car program and moving ahead with the auto industry giant’s vision of offering an autonomous car for commercial use or shared trips as early as 2021.

SAIPS specializes in developing algorithms based on Deep Neural Networks. Its portfolio includes a number of technologies designed to provide a solution to quite a few challenges in the computer vision field: recognition of patterns and anomalies, detection and tracking, 3D, behavior prediction, positioning, image enhancement, and more.

Following the acquisition, SAIPS will help Ford develop the advanced artificial intelligence algorithms needed to map a car’s dynamic surroundings and make complicated split-second decisions, which will be crucial to autonomous cars’ functioning. SAIPS’ founders are CEO Udy Danino, U.S. branch manager Noga Zieber, and CTO Rotem Littman. The founders of the 12-employee company assert that SAIPS was already making a profit in its first year while achieving annual growth of over 50% in revenue and profits.

Commenting on the acquisition, Danino said, “I’m proud of the company’s employees, who indisputably constitute one of the best algorithms groups in Israel. We’re delighted and excited to join the Ford family in general, and especially its autonomous car program. It is difficult to imagine a more exciting combination of a product with such a major effect on the world we live in and an algorithmic challenge on the cutting edge of technology. We’re thrilled to discover in Ford a professional environment that fosters innovation and dynamism, and we’re enthusiastic about the potential cooperation and our common future.”

Ford steps on the gas

Ford reports that it expects to triple its fleet of autonomous driving test vehicles to 30 this year, a larger fleet than that of any other auto manufacturer in the world. The test vehicles will travel on roads in California, Arizona, and Michigan. Ford has also invested in two other companies, Velodyne and Civil Maps, and has signed a licensing agreement with Nirenberg Neuroscience, a computer vision company.

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