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Zurich set to become a hub of artificial intelligence

The Greater Zurich Area wants to pool its skills in artificial intelligence. Companies and research institutes are planning to create an alliance that will breathe life into concrete projects such as humanoid robots.

The ABB robot YuMi was developed for human-robot collaboration. Image credit: ABB
The ABB robot YuMi was developed for human-robot collaboration. Image credit: ABB

The Greater Zurich Area aims to lead the competition in the race towards artificial intelligence. According to an article in the Sunday newspaper NZZ am Sonntag, companies such as ABB, Swiss Re and UBS are joining forces with the Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich, the University of Zurich, the Zurich University of Applied Sciences and Swiss AI Lab in Lugano in the canton of Ticino to create a broad alliance that will work towards creating a hub for artificial intelligence. The alliance, which will be coordinated by the Mindfire Foundation, will be launched in September.

The initiative has the support of Carmen Walker Späh, President of the Government Council of the Canton of Zurich and Head of the Department for Economic Affairs. “I am convinced that we can and should take a leading role in this important area,” she is quoted in the article.

Mindfire initiator Pascal Kaufmann wants to focus on concrete projects, such as constructing a humanoid robot or developing drones with a particularly high number of sensors. He sees the planned hub as a “type of Nasa for artificial intelligence”.

The initiative will build on existing strengths in areas such as robots, sensor technology and machine vision. “The field of applications is broad,” says ABB Chief Technology Officer Bazmi Husain. “Having said that, we already see now a strong role for Switzerland in the field of industrial autonomous process.”

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