Uber has paid an undisclosed sum to purchase a mysterious New York-based company that it will use to launch a new research unit.

Dubbed “Uber’s A.I. Labs,” the group will include all 15 employees of Geometric Intelligence, with two of those employees, Gary Marcus and Zoubin Ghahraman, leading the new group, according to The New York Times.

“Every major company realizes how essential A.I. is to what they’re doing,” Dr. Marcus told the Times. “Because of the scale of data people are operating on, even the smallest gains in efficiency can turn out enormous changes at these companies, especially in terms of profit.”

Uber has been investing heavily in self-driving cars and trucks, and developing more sophisticated AI and machine learning tools will be critical to making those efforts a success. And with every Silicon Valley company from Google to Facebook to Apple pouring big bucks into these areas, scooping up an entire team in one deal certainly makes sense for a company that’s trying to make good on its massive private valuation.

VentureBeat's mission is to be a digital town square for technical decision-makers to gain knowledge about transformative enterprise technology and transact. Discover our Briefings.