Microsoft to acquire Berkely based Bonsai, an M12 portfolio company, to offer cutting-edge machine learning solutions

Last Updated: Fri, Jun 22, 2018 08:57 hrs
Industrial Learning

Microsoft has revealed in its blog post that it will be acquiring Bonsai, a Berkeley based startup that offers Artificial intelligence based solutions.

The 42 member team at Bonsai is expected to soon integrate into the AI and Research group at Microsoft. This move is expected to help Microsoft expand portfolio in the areas of industrial autonomous systems and control systems.

"With AI’s meteoric rise, autonomous systems have been projected to grow to more than 800 million in operation by 2025," reasoned a post on Microsoft's blog.

But AI systems as imagined in science fiction and movies for a long time are yet to be seen in real life business conditions.

"The reality today is that training autonomous systems that function amidst the many unforeseen situations in the real world is very hard and requires deep expertise in AI — essentially making it unscalable," added the post.

The acquisition is expected to merge the synergies between the two companies, and fortify Microsoft's current AI based offerings. 

Berkeley is already an M12 portfolio company. M12 is an investment capital vehicle of Microsoft. M12 (formerly Microsoft Ventures) was re-named to represent the partnership between Microsoft and its entrepreneurs.


The team at Bonsai. Image Credit: Microsoft Blog

Bonsai apparently is building a general-purpose, deep reinforcement learning platform for enterprises leveraging industrial control systems such as robotics, energy, HVAC, manufacturing and autonomous systems in general.

The development includes unique machine-teaching innovations, automated model generation and management, a host of APIs (application program interface) and SDKs (Software Development Kit) for simulator integration, as well as pre-built support for leading simulations all packaged in one end-to-end platform.

Mark Hammond, Bonsai's CEO had a stint at Microsoft as a developer evangelist and consultant at its research division.

Using Bonsai’s AI Platform and machine teaching, subject matter experts from Siemens, with no AI expertise, trained an AI model to auto-calibrate a Computer Numerical Control machine 30 times faster than the traditional approach. This represented a huge milestone in industrial AI, and the implications when considered across the broader sector are just staggering.

Combining Bonsai's prowess with it's existing IoT based solutions offered through the Azure platform, Microsoft is hopeful of building robust autonomous industrial systems.

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