FANUC, Hitachi, and Preferred Networks to Establish a Joint Venture Company for the Development of Intelligent Edge Systems

FANUC CORPORATION (TSE: 6594), Hitachi, Ltd. (TSE:6501), and Preferred Networks, Inc. (PFN) today announced that they have reached an agreement to establish a joint venture company on April 2, 2018, to develop Intelligent Edge Systems(1) that utilize artificial intelligence (AI) technologies in edge devices in the industrial and social infrastructure field. Yutaka Saito, who is currently Executive Vice President and Executive Officer at Hitachi, and who will be appointed Senior Executive Vice President at FANUC on April 1, will hold a concurrent position as CEO of the new company(2).
In recent years, innovations using AI technologies have been expanding rapidly in a variety of fields. In the field of industrial and social infrastructures in particular, AI technologies are expected to play an important role in the part close to edge devices, for example in the case of vehicles and robots.
In this backdrop, FANUC, Hitachi, and PFN have agreed to undertake joint development of the world’s most advanced Intelligent Edge Systems in the industrial and social infrastructure field, and to establish a joint venture company for that purpose. The new company will develop these Intelligent Edge Systems by combining FANUC’s technologies and expertise in machine tools and robots, Hitachi’s knowledge of control technologies and other aspects of OT and IT in the front lines of manufacturing, and PFN’s deep learning and distributed computing technologies. After establishing a joint venture company, the three companies will test business potential and create business plans, and then undertake actual system development and expand application fields.
Through the new company’s activities, FANUC, Hitachi, and PFN will develop Intelligent Edge Systems and other next-generation control systems as part of efforts to promote collaborative creation aimed at the realization of Society 5.0(3).
Comment from Yoshiharu Inaba, Representative Member of the Board, Chairman and CEO of FANUC
“FANUC is planning to continue investing efforts into the development of FIELD systems as part of its activities targeting IoT. We believe that the activities of the joint venture company, as it strives to achieve faster, cyclic, real-time control, will have a positive effect on these development activities. As a company that has specialized in the field of factory automation, we will respond quickly and flexibly to the rapid introduction of IoT in the manufacturing industry, and continue to contribute to the growth and development of this industry in the future. We have great expectations for this joint venture company as a new phase of these activities.”
Comment from Toshiaki Higashihara, President and CEO of Hitachi
“It is a great honor to work with FANUC and PFN in establishing this joint venture company. Through the Social Innovation Business, where we combine knowledge and expertise accumulated through more than 100 years of experience in OT and more than 50 years in IT, Hitachi strives to resolve issues faced by society, and achieve safer, more secure, and more comfortable lifestyles for everyone. Now, by merging the strengths of these three companies, we will develop and offer the world’s most advanced Intelligent Edge Systems, to contribute to advancements in the field of industrial and social infrastructures.”
Comment from Toru Nishikawa, President & CEO of Preferred Networks
“I am very pleased that we are able to begin these new activities so soon after the announcement of our capital tie-up with Hitachi in December of last year. PFN entered a capital tie-up with FANUC in 2015, and since then, we have been working together to create innovative manufacturing bases where machine learning and deep learning technologies are used to establish intelligent links between machine tools, robots, and other devices. Now, by establishing this joint venture company, our three companies will accelerate the development and provision of innovative technologies that leverage each of our respective specialty fields, to further advance this trend on a global scale.”
(1)Intelligent Edge Systems: Systems that use AI as an intermediary between the Cloud and edge devices such as machine tools, industrial machinery, and robots to achieve cyclic, real-time control
(2)Yutaka Saito is scheduled to resign as Executive Vice President at Hitachi on March 31.
(3)A human-centered society that balances economic advancement with the resolution of social problems by a system that highly integrates cyberspace and physical space.
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