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Amazon and MIT today announced the establishment of the Science Hub, a collaboration that will focus on areas of mutual interest, beginning with artificial intelligence and robotics in the first year. The primary goals of the Science Hub are to ensure the benefits of AI and robotics innovations are shared broadly – both through education and by advancing research – and to broaden participation in the research from diverse, interdisciplinary scholars, and other innovators.
To get the hub started, Amazon will provide gift and sponsored research funding over the next five years to support research and academic fellowships on campus.
Aude Oliva, a senior research scientist and director of strategic industry engagement in the MIT Schwarzman College of Computing, will serve as the principal investigator for the Science Hub.
“AI and robotics have an enormous impact on every aspect of our lives, fundamentally changing how we work, learn, access resources and services, and connect to one another – so it’s critical we conduct research that advances the field in ways that are responsible, effective, and beneficial to society,” said Oliva. “We take an expansive view of AI and robotics to include expertise from across all five of the Institute’s schools. We’re excited by the potential of collaborations with industry leaders who bring their insights to the research, want to support the next generation of talent, and are best positioned to implement what is learned.”
Over the years, Amazon Robotics, the Massachusetts-based subsidiary of Amazon, has collaborated on various robotics projects with MIT staff, including Russ Tedrake, Alberto Rodriguez, Daniela Rus, Julie Shah, and Nicholas Roy.
“We are delighted to join forces with MIT, bringing together top scientists and engineers from our two organizations in a joint endeavor to find solutions to the most challenging problems in AI and robotics,” said Tye Brady, MIT alumni and Amazon Robotics chief technologist. “MIT’s well-established record of conducting leading-edge, multi-disciplinary research paired with Amazon’s emphasis on translating research into applied science will help ensure the new hub results in practical solutions whose benefits extend beyond industry and academia.”
“We are particularly keen to utilize the breadth of collaboration mechanisms available in the new hub, including sponsored research which could lead to open-source publications and community outreach that will broaden participation in the research process,” said Siddhartha Srinivasa director, Amazon Robotics AI. “These mechanisms are now open to all the business areas of Amazon beyond Robotics too, so we are excited to see the breadth of innovation to come from this collaboration in the coming years.”
Amazon is also building a state-of-the-art robotics innovation center in Massachusetts. Opening this fall, the company is investing more than $40 million in the new site to allow Amazon Robotics to continue to grow its engineering, manufacturing, support and test teams in the state. The 350,000-square-foot facility will feature corporate offices, research and development labs, and manufacturing space and will be in addition to Amazon Robotics’ current site in North Reading — together serving as the company’s epicenter of robotics innovation.