The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is a country that has committed to capitalizing on the economic potential of A.I. Not only has the UAE developed an A.I. strategy, but it is also the first country globally to establish a Ministry focused exclusively on A.I. According to Accenture, A.I. could contribute as much as USD 182 billion to the UAE’s Gross Value Add (GVA) by 2035 through a combination of automation, augmentation of human capabilities and stimulation of the country’s fundamental innovation potential. Likewise, PwC has stated that A.I. could add as much as USD 96 billion to the UAE’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by 2030, which would be equivalent to about 14% of the country’s GDP in the same year. In support of such projections, 50% of the UAE-based companies surveyed by Accenture have indicated that they plan to invest in A.I. during 2018. These investments are stimulated by the UAE government’s multi-faceted A.I. strategy, which aims to attract and train A.I. talent, support an environment of data access and sharing and provide governance and regulation for the safe and ethical use of A.I. Stakeholders across the UAE’s innovation spectrum are critical to the implementation of the country’s A.I. strategy. At the Khalifa University of Science and Technology (KU), our research and development strategy is highly aligned with the UAE’s A.I. efforts. In early 2018, we launched two flagship research centers that will lead our growing set of A.I. capabilities. The KU Center for Autonomous Robotic Systems (KUCARS) addresses some of the key technology challenges in the application of A.I. for robotics, including robust autonomy in dynamic and unstructured environments, sensing and artificial perception, sense and avoid capability.
GPS denied navigation, vision based control and 3D tracking, and human-robot interactions. The center’s specific focuses areas are robotics for extreme environments, robotics for industrial applications and robotics for infrastructure surveillance and inspection. These focus areas collectively support a number of UAE strategies that are underpinned by A.I., including
- The UAE Strategy for the Fourth Industrial Revolution, which explicitly refers to ‘’developing national industries in the field of robotics and autonomous vehicle technologies’’
- The Dubai Autonomous Transportation Strategy, which aims to transform 25% of the total transportation in Dubai to autonomous mode by 2030 and
- The Dubai 3D Printing Strategy, which includes a target of having 25% of Dubai’s buildings constructed via 3D printing technology by 2030.
Complementing KUCARS, the KU Center for Cyber-Physical Systems (C2PS) plays a key role in the utilization of A.I. to gain insights from the massive amounts of information being generated by internet-connected devices. According to IBM, more than 90% of the world’s data has been created since 2015 and the world’s internet traffic has already surpassed 1 zettabyte annually, which is equivalent in size to about 250 billion high-definition movies. The technological backbone for such massive and increasing data flows is a high-bandwidth global information network that provides connectivity for billions of devices. Given this context, C2PS has significant research efforts underway on next-generation networks as well as the cybersecurity methodologies necessary to establish trust between network-connected devices, users and applications. The A.I. research conducted by C2PS advances the state-of-the-art in machine learning to gain business-relevant insights from the data generated by connected devices. Consistent with emerging trends in A.I. research, the center is investigating A.I. analytics performed on server-based hardware and software as well as hardware and software explicitly optimized for A.I. at or near the point of data collection.
The A.I. research, development and innovation that we are undertaking at KU aims to have a significant impact on the UAE’s ambitious A.I. agenda. We, therefore, are not only developing A.I. knowledge and technologies but also developing a workforce trained in the use of essential A.I. tools and techniques. Moving forward, we will focus on translating these academic and research outputs to the UAE’s public and private sectors to support the country in realizing its A.I. potential.