Grab has opened a research and development (R&D) facility in the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur, which will focus its efforts on using machine learning to improve driver safety as well as developing real-time communications capabilities.
The new R&D lab is its seventh worldwide, and first in the country where Grab was founded in 2012, when it began as a ride-sharing services provider before branching out to include other services such as food delivery and digital payments.
Grab said it planned to hire 100 technology specialists, including data scientists and software engineers, for its Kuala Lumpur R&D facility, so it can focus its efforts on developing real-time communications functions and tapping artificial intelligence (AI) to improve driver safety.
Such developments include voice-over-Internet Protocol calls via its GrabChat messaging platform and using machine learning to enhance its Driver Fatigue feature, which assesses a driver's weariness based on factors such as time of day, rest between shifts, their age profile, and the length of time they had been on the road. Alerts are sent to drivers when they hit a high fatigue level.
Grab's engineering head Ditesh Gathani said the company hoped to build up local tech skills through its Malaysian research lab, specifically, in areas such as machine learning.
It also is looking to add 1,000 tech jobs next year as it aims to drive its app development, including its API suite GrabPlatform.
In July, the company joined hands with the National University of Singapore to set up an AI laboratory to study transport patterns across Southeast Asia and develop applications to "transform" urban transportation. The site was launched with an initial joint investment of S$6 million (US$4.4 million) and would tap data from Grab's platform, which had processed more than 2 billion rides.
Ride-sharing operator raises another US$1 billion from a group of financial backers that include Vulcan Capital and Lightspeed Venture Partners, following a previous US$1 billion pledge from Toyota Motor.
Ride-sharing operator Grab will tap data from its platform to extract insights on transport patterns in Southeast Asian cities, and jointly develop applications with National University of Singapore to "transform" urban transportation.
Competition and Consumer Commission of Singapore says Grab's acquisition of Uber's Southeast Asian operations has led to "substantial lessening of competition" and may be reversed if proposed remedies are found to be insufficient.
Dubbed City Brain, the artificial intelligence system runs on Alibaba's cloud computing infrastructure and is the first to be deployed outside its domestic Chinese market.