Artificial Intelligence

Universities in Pittsburgh and Paris to Host New AI R&D Centers

Two institutions, one in the United States and the other in France, have announced partnerships with industry to accelerate their research and development work in the area of artificial intelligence. Carnegie Mellon University has teamed up with Sony Corporation of America to collaborate on AI and robotics in the areas of cooking and delivery, and the École Polytechnique (l'X) in Paris is working with Google France to fund a new academic and research chair in AI. The goal of that position is to attract AI talent to the institution and begin programs of training for students in the field.

Carnegie Mellon's specific areas of research — optimizing food preparation, cooking and delivery — was chosen because the technology that can direct a robot to handle those complex areas could be applied to a "broader set of skills and industries," school officials said. For example, machines that can manipulate eggs could also presumably handle other fragile and irregularly shaped objects. Likewise, such robots would be designed to work in tight quarters, which could also be of value for other applications.

CMU's School of Computer Science in Pittsburgh will host most of the research. "Making and serving food is an immense challenge for automation, so we're excited about the types of machines and software that might emerge as we jointly explore a variety of approaches and solutions," said Andrew Moore, dean of the school, in a prepared statement.

"This project has the potential to make the vast possibilities of AI and robotics more familiar and accessible to the general public," added Sony executive Hiroaki Kitano, who will serve as project lead. "Additionally, it could also assist those for whom daily tasks, such as food preparation, are challenging."

At l'X, the new chair will support AI-related training, research and international outreach. Marie-Paule Cani, a professor of computer science, has been appointed to the role. The university is launching an AI and advanced visual computing master's program, to start in fall 2018. The chair will participate in a scholarship program for candidates pursuing that degree. Google France will also be offering l'X students research internship opportunities. In addition, the school will provide AI seminars, roundtables and workshops to help students understand how AI plays out in the real world and to examine scientific, technical, ethical and social dimensions.

"This chair will allow us to take advantage of the French excellence in research-based training and of dual skills computer science-mathematics, to bring out a generation of young talents who will create the digital professions of tomorrow," said Cani.

Added university president Jacques Biot, "This 25th chair reflects our institution's ability to work in close interaction with the business world in order to advance knowledge for the benefit of society, and to foster the employability of our students. It is an additional piece in the powerful device deployed by l'X to support the development of artificial intelligence."

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal and Campus Technology. She can be reached at dian@dischaffhauser.com or on Twitter @schaffhauser.

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