Global expert on robots joins Abu Dhabi’s AI university as provost

Fakhreddine Karray is at the forefront of developing of machines with capacity for ‘self-awareness’

A globally renowned researcher of self-driving vehicles, robots and self-aware machines is the latest top recruit to Abu Dhabi’s pioneering artificial intelligence university.

Prof Fakhreddine Karray joins the Mohamed bin Zayed University of Artificial Intelligence, or MBZUAI, as provost and will work to develop the institution’s academic and research strategy.

In his previous post at the University of Waterloo in Canada, he was the founding co-director of the Waterloo Artificial Intelligence Institute.

The unit works with the private sector to develop intelligent systems in areas such as disease detection and treatment, vehicle navigation and language and emotion.

“It is a privilege to join MBZUAI at a time when artificial intelligence is playing an increasingly critical role in driving economic and social development in the UAE and elsewhere,” Prof Karray said.

Applications of his research include the development of machines with “self-aware” capabilities, predictive analytics in supply chain management and intelligent transport systems.

“From the beginning, our objective was to bring the best AI talent to Abu Dhabi and this appointment aligns with that goal,” said Prof Eric Xing, the university’s president.

MBZUAI, a graduate-level research university, welcomed its first class of students to its Masdar City campus in January.

The university’s curriculum is focused on two areas: machine learning, which provides the mathematical foundation of AI, and computer vision, which takes machine learning a step further to identify and analyse pictures and videos.

Admissions are also now open for its third course, “natural-language processing”, which allows computers to communicate with people using everyday language.

The plan is to add departments such as health care, energy and industry, Prof Xing previously told The National.

“Those areas where there is a good synergy and a strategic priority in the nation for us, the UAE, then we want to tap into our ecosystem and to help our community to benefit,” he said at the time.

The university is set to welcome its second class this autumn. All students are provided with a full scholarship, plus benefits such as a monthly allowance, health insurance and housing.

Updated: August 16th 2021, 3:06 AM