Andrew Ng, the founder and CEO of Landing AI.
MARK RALSTON | AFP | Getty Images
Artificial intelligence pioneer Andrew Ng, the founder of the Google Brain research lab and the former chief scientist of Baidu, has raised $57 million from investors for his start-up, Landing AI, at an undisclosed valuation.
Founded in Palo Alto in 2017, Landing AI is focused on bringing artificial intelligence to manufacturing companies. It has developed a computer vision tool that manufacturers can use to create their own visual inspection software.
Computer vision software enables computers to derive meaningful information from digital images and videos. While it can be used, for example, to help autonomous cars make sense of their surroundings, it can also be used to identify a defect on a semiconductor wafer, a scratch on a smartphone screen or a dent in an auto component.
Landing AI competes with the likes of Palo Alto-headquartered Instrumental and San Mateo-headquartered Chooch.ai.
“We build tools that make it fast and easy for manufacturers to build and deploy successful AI systems,” Ng told CNBC, adding that he wants to take AI to other industries and beyond consumer internet platforms like Google and Baidu.
“We read in the news and hear the PR buzz about AI supposedly transforming a lot of things,” said Ng, a former professor of computer science at Stanford University.
“To me, I’m not seeing much of this realized yet. There’s tons of proof of concept, tons of PR, but frankly when I walk around manufacturing plants, AI is not widely deployed.”
Landing AI’s customers include U.S. industrial tools maker Stanley Black & Decker and Taiwanese electronics manufacturer Foxconn.
In a brief testimony on Landing AI’s website, Andrew Liou, Foxconn’s executive vice president, says that Landing’s AI has shortened Foxconn’s development time and increased the accuracy of its AI system.
The amount of money flowing into AI start-ups has been rising steadily over the last decade. Venture capital analysis firm Dealroom predicts that investors will pump around $90 billion into AI start-ups this year, up from around $60 billion in 2020.
Intel Capital and Samsung Catalyst Fund both participated in Landing AI’s series A funding round, as did Insight Partners and the Canadian Pension Plan Investment Board. The investment was led by McRock Capital.
George Mathew, managing director at Insight Partners, said in a statement that “digital modernization of manufacturing is rapidly growing,” adding that it is expected to be a $300 billion market by 2023.
“The opportunity and need for Landing AI is only exploding,” Matthew said. “It will unlock the untapped segment of targeted machine vision projects addressing quality, efficiency and output. We’re looking forward to playing a role in the next phase of Landing AI’s exciting journey.”
Ng said he plans to use the funding to try and “make everything go faster.” That involves doubling the team from 75 to around 150, while also bringing on new customers, he explained.