April 13, 2017 / 6:01 AM / 4 months ago

China's Baidu buys U.S. computer vision startup amid AI push

FILE PHOTO - Baidu's company logo is seen at its headquarters in Beijing December 17, 2014.Kim Kyung-Hoon

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

xPerception, which makes vision perception software and hardware with applications in robotics and virtual reality, will continue to develop their core technology under Baidu's research unit, the Chinese firm said in a statement on 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 artificial intelligence 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 push-back on acquisitions in the U.S. market.

Alibaba Group Holding Ltd affiliate Ant Financial has denied claims by rival bidder Euronet Worldwide Inc that its bid for U.S. remittance firm MoneyGram International Inc 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 says xPerception will help the firm develop visual perception technology for their augmented reality projects and autonomous driving unit.

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

Reporting by Cate Cadell; Editing by Stephen Coates

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