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Tesla is reportedly in talks with Israeli AI vision firm as Elon Musk visits the country [Update: Tesla denies]

Update: a Tesla spokesperson denied that Tesla has been in talks with Cortica. Tesla CEO Elon Musk went a step further:

When Elon Musk visits a country, it often spurs rumors of talks between his companies, Tesla and SpaceX, and local industries.

We saw it happened in Chile a few months ago and now the same thing happens in Israel as the CEO visits the country.

Israel’s business journal Globes is reporting based on unnamed “industry sources” that Musk’s visit in Israel includes a stop at artificial intelligence company Cortica to discuss an investment or even a possible acquisition by Tesla.

The company describes itself on its website:

“Cortica has developed autonomous AI that simulates the natural processes of the mammal cortex. Its unsupervised approach to learning mimics the way the brain processes information: enabling machines to learn, collaborate and interact with the world without human input. The technology is backed by more than 200 patents and 10 years of cutting-edge research, and is revolutionizing visual intelligence for a smarter and safer world.”

They have been applying their technology to self-driving vehicles and they are reportedly having a great success.

Here’s a video demonstration of their technology:

The company is currently looking to partner with automakers to implement their technology inside their vehicles.

Even though Tesla has its own AI and computer vision effort for Autopilot, this could also be a possible explanation for the talks between the two companies, but the Globes reports that it has to do with an investment:

“The talks between the two companies could develop into financial investment in Cortica, or even an acquisition of the company. Cortica declined to comment.”

The timing is especially interesting after Musk recently left Open AI’s board citing potential conflict with Tesla’s own growing AI effort.

According to his Instagram, Musk was in Jerusalem yesterday. He posted the following series of images and videos:

Electrek’s Take

The rumors are reminiscent of very similar rumors that came up between Tesla and Mobileye 4 years ago, which of course turned out to be true as the two companies partnered to create Autopilot 1.0.

It’s especially similar since Mobileye is also an Israeli company operating in the space of autonomous driving technology.

The partnership ended when Tesla started deploying Autopilot 2.0, which the company developed itself by bringing more of the self-learning and computer vision side of the tech in-house.

It seemed that Tesla focused on developing its own technology for Autopilot ever since, but I don’t see how bringing some outside help would be out of the question.

Though I feel like an acquisition is unlikely simply because the space has seen a ridiculous surge in valuation and autonomous driving startups basically have an automatic billion-dollar valuation, which would be hard to pull for Tesla.

It’s nonetheless an interesting development to follow.

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