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HERE establishes AI research center in Austria


The mapping services firm will provide funds of more than $28 million to establish the new facility


Mapping and location services company HERE Technologies is establishing a new artificial intelligence research center.

The International Institute for Advanced Research in Artificial Intelligence (IARAI), to be located in Vienna, Austria, will be the world’s first global machine-learning research institute to use industrial-scale geolocation data, the company said. It will be an independent institution, HERE added, although the mapping company will cooperate closely with it and provide datasets and expertise.

HERE said that the IARAI “will conduct research in machine learning that will deepen the location intelligence needed to offer heightened location awareness,” citing uses such as autonomous vehicles; more accurate, “self-healing” maps; improved traffic prediction models and optimized fleet management and city infrastructure.

This initiative will give HERE greater access to emerging technological capabilities in the company’s core field of interest, developed on its data, the company noted.

Amsterdam-based HEREalso highlighted that by applying AI algorithms — which can extract and learn complex patterns from vast numbers of data points — the institute is “poised to tackle the most pressing location-based problems in industry and society.”

Over a five-year period, HERE will provide the institute with more than 25 million euros ($28.1 million) in financial assistance to support the IARAI’s development, including funding for the physical space and research positions. The current focus is on international recruitment to create a research team of approximately 30 people.

The IARAI will be headed by Dr. Sepp Hochreiter, an artificial intelligence pioneer and inventor of the long short-term memory (LSTM) neural network framework, from Johannes Kepler University in Linz; and Dr. David Kreil, a leader in data science, from Boku University in Vienna.

“The IARAI is our gateway to build the next generation of location services, from self-healing maps to high-level automation, through leading-edge AI research,” said Peter Kürpick, the newly appointed CTO at HERE. “HERE sits on unique data and mapping assets. By focussing on deep learning and the large-scale testing of that data, the institute will expand our understanding of how location can be represented through neural networks, the core components that will fuel these next-level location services.”

“The unique data and expertise that HERE offers for open academic research is a game-changer for the construction of realistic AI models,” said Dr. Hochreiter. “This openness made HERE a very attractive partner for the IARAI.”

“The IARAI and HERE bring together, for the first time, the wider scientific community and real-world location data on a grand scale,” said Dr. Kreil. “This raises unique opportunities for academic research and industrial applications.”



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