The Kempe Foundations have granted two years of funding for eight postdoctoral researchers in autonomous systems in a major investment at Umeå University in Sweden. Autonomous systems consist of software and infrastructure that together with humans provide increased functionality, sustainability, and efficiency for society, such as self-driving cars, industry robots, and socially intelligent computer systems that can help people in their everyday life.
"We are facing a dramatic transformation of industry and society, a transformation expected to be as dramatic as the industrialisation in the early 1900s," says Erik Elmroth, professor in Computing Science at Umeå University and the leader of this effort.
Classic examples of autonomous systems are those where the system is assumed to replace the human, such as industry robots and self-driving cars. The potential for revolutionising industry and society is, however, much larger than that. Autonomous systems will be central to smart buildings, smart cities, digital cognitive agents, and production processes within broad fields. In these cases, the autonomous systems support the human ability to manage complexity, by analysis and decision-making, often based on vast amounts of data and under hard time requirements.
Another important area for autonomous systems is the management of the enormous IT infrastructure, including self-managing datacenters and networks, where autonomous systems make the decisions on how, when, and where capacity should be allocated.
"This investment in autonomous systems is important to place the region and Umeå University in the forefront for the development of this area," says Erik Elmroth.
Eight new researchers
The investment complements the University's participation in the Wallenberg Autonomous Systems Program and comprises eight new postdoctoral researches to be led by eight different project leaders at three departments.
"Since autonomous systems cannot be developed in isolation from the areas in which they will be used, this research has to be multidisciplinary to be successful. Therefore, it is particularly important that this investment spans many scientific areas and departments," Erik Elmroth continues.
The recruitment of the eight researchers starts immediately. The ambition is to have all of them starting before Summer 2017.
The eight topics
The project leaders and the topics for the eight postdoctoral researchers:
- Erik Elmroth: Autonomous anomaly detection in future cloud computing infrastructures
- Leonid Freidovich: Automation for heavy-duty mobile hydraulic cranes with applications in agriculture and forestry
- Thomas Hellström: Recognition of human intention in verbal human-robot interaction
- Helena Lindgren: Digital Companions: Socially intelligent autonomous systems
- Juan Carlos Nieves: Autonomous systems that recognise, explain, and predict complex human activities
- Kai-Florian Richter: Autonomous systems' ability to understand their own limitations
- Martin Servin: Realtime physics-based computer vision for crane manipulators
- Johan Tordsson: Autonomous resource allocation for rack-scale systems