China’s Baidu buys US computer vision startup amid AI push


BEIJING (Reuters) — Chinese internet firm Baidu, Inc. has agreed to acquire U.S. computer vision firm xPerception for an undisclosed amount to support its renewed efforts in artificial intelligence as Chinese tech firms face regulatory headwinds in the United States.

xPerception, which makes vision perception software and hardware with applications in robotics and virtual reality, will continue to develop its core technology under Baidu’s research unit, the Chinese firm said in a statement Thursday.

“The acquisition of xPerception is the latest in a recent series of notable investments aimed at strengthening Baidu’s position as a global leader in AI,” it said.

Baidu is targeting foreign personnel and technology as part of a wider drive to refocus company resources on developing AI capabilities.

Revenues from the firm’s core search unit took a beating last year when the Chinese government tightened online ad regulations, culling a chunk of existing advertisers with new eligibility requirements.

The announcement comes as other Chinese tech firms struggle with regulatory pushback on acquisitions in the U.S. market.

Alibaba Group Holding Limited affiliate Ant Financial has denied claims by rival bidder Euronet Worldwide, Inc. that its bid for U.S. remittance firm MoneyGram poses national security risks.

On Tuesday, Chinese internet firm LeEco announced it will scrap a $2 billion bid for U.S. electronics firm Vizio.

Baidu said xPerception will help the firm develop visual perception technology for their augmented reality projects and autonomous driving unit.

xPerception was founded by two former engineers from Magic Leap, a U.S. augmented reality startup that counts Alibaba as an investor.