Microsoft today announced that it is acquiring Bonsai, a california-based AI startup which enables enterprises to build intelligent systems. Back in 2017, Microsoft invested in Bonsai through M12 (formerly Microsoft Ventures).
Bonsai is creating a general-purpose, deep reinforcement learning platform especially suited for enterprises leveraging industrial control systems such as robotics, energy, HVAC, manufacturing and autonomous systems in general. By automating the management of complex machine learning algorithms, Bonsai enables developers everywhere to take advantage of the latest advances in AI.
“Bonsai’s platform combined with rich simulation tools and reinforcement learning work in Microsoft Research becomes the simplest and richest AI toolchain for building any kind of autonomous system for control and calibration tasks. This toolchain will compose with Azure Machine Learning running on the Azure Cloud with GPUs and Brainwave, and models built with it will be deployed and managed in Azure IoT, giving Microsoft an end-to-end solution for building, operating and enhancing “brains” for autonomous systems,” wrote Gurdeep Pall, Corporate Vice President, Business AI.
Bonsai has also achieved some breakthroughs with their approach. Last year, they have established a new reinforcement learning benchmark for programming industrial control systems.
Using a robotics task to demonstrate the achievement, the platform successfully trained a simulated robotic arm to grasp and stack blocks on top of one another by breaking down the task into simpler sub-concepts. Their novel technique performed 45 times faster than a comparable approach from Google’s DeepMind.
Microsoft did not reveal any specifics about the financials involved in this acquisition.