AI pioneer Andrew Ng is probably best known for his work on the Google Brain project and for leading Baidu’s AI group (and his machine learning course on Coursera). After leaving Baidu earlier this year, it wasn’t quite clear what exactly Ng was up to (except for teaching more classes), but today he announced the launch of Landing.ai, a new startup that focuses on bringing artificial intelligence to the manufacturing industry. Landing.ai’s first strategic partner is Foxconn and Ng says he’s been working with them since July.
The idea here is to help bring AI to industries outside the traditional IT world. In his announcement, Ng argues that AI and machine learning have already transformed how many of the big internet companies do business. Other industries, however, are lagging behind. “It is now time to build not just an AI-powered IT industry, but an AI-powered society,” Ng writes. “One in which our physical needs, health care, transportation, food, and lodging are more accessible through AI, and where every person is freed from repetitive mental drudgery. For the whole world to experience benefits of AI, it must pervade many industries, not just the IT industry.”
So what will Landing.ai actually do? Ng writes that the company is working on a number of “AI transformation programs” that include introducing new technologies to companies, training employees and more.
The manufacturing industry is the first focus of the company, though Ng is clearly looking to expand beyond this initial vertical.
As for the Foxconn partnership, Ng says that he’s been working with them to develop “AI technologies, talent and systems that build on the core competencies of the two companies.”
All of this sounds a bit vague, and Landing.ai definitely strikes me as more of a consulting firm than a technology play. It’s unclear if the company will develop any of its own AI technologies or platforms, though given today’s launch announcement, the focus here seems to be more on bringing existing technologies to enterprises like Foxconn.