• 5/15/2020
  • Reading time 4 min.

Massive expansion of artificial intelligence research at TUM

State of Bavaria raises AI research to new heights

Under the Bavarian government's Hightech Agenda Bayern, TUM's leading expertise in the forward-looking fields of robotics and artificial intelligence is set to undergo a massive expansion. By establishing 14 new professorships, including two under the auspices of multi-location Bavarian research cooperatives, the initiative contributes to position TUM among the world's leading centers of research and innovation in AI and machine intelligence.

DNA-Origami Hendrik Dietz / TUM
One of the new professorships at TUM will do research on Intelligent Nano and Microrobotics in Medicine. The basics of this future technology are already being researched by several research groups – like these shapes made from of self-folding "DNA-origami", approximately the size of virus shells.

TUM is currently the only German university ranked among the top 10 in international AI research. Through the establishment of th Munich School of Robotics and Machine Intelligence (2017), the TUM Institute for Ethics in Artificial Intelligence (2019), and the Munich Data Science Institute (2020), now in the launch phase, the wide-ranging expertise and skills of the approximately 60 professors working in machine learning and AI fields at TUM today have been provided with an interdisciplinary framework and channeled into forward-looking, innovative fields of activity.

By establishing 14 new professorships, including two under the auspices of multi-location Bavarian research cooperatives, the initiative aims to make TUM a world-class player for research and innovation in AI and machine intelligence. AI and intelligent robotics in medicine, bio-inspired robotics for mobile applications, AI for new materials and processors, and resource-conserving machine learning are just a few examples of TUM's strategic policy for academic appointments. With the new research chairs, TUM hopes to deliver a major boost to the development of responsible and reliable AI and, in close cooperation with the other universities and research partners in the Bavarian AI network and its affiliated institution, UnternehmerTUM, will seek to capture new, value-generating synergies.

“Driving the growth of top-level expertise at the local level while forging strong and coherent cooperative relationships among leading research sites is the only effective strategy for pushing Bavaria to the forefront in the global race for AI innovations. With the new AI research appointments under the Hightech Agenda Bayern – confidently announced against the backdrop of the coronavirus crisis and the resulting budgetary challenges – the Bavarian government is sending out a clear message, signaling its firm commitment to the future. In this way, Bavaria, with its innovation metropolis of Munich, will establish itself as the foremost AI hub in Germany and Europe,” said Prof. Thomas F. Hofmann, the President of TUM.

Successful cooperative AI projects:

  • Medical Nano-Micro-Robotics.
    In just a few years, researchers expect robots on a molecular scale to use intelligent cellular navigation to move within the body and release drugs for the targeted treatment of illnesses. The new TUM professorship for Intelligent Nano and Microrobotics in Medicine will work closely with research groups in biophysics, biochemistry, medicine and the Munich School of Robotics and Machine Intelligence in this futuristic field of molecular robotics. TUM and the German Heart Center will join forces in this cooperative group with Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, the Ansbach University of Applied Sciences and the Munich University of Applied Sciences to facilitate entirely new therapeutic and diagnostic approaches on the nano and micro scales by combining complex AI methods and systems with highly specific molecular / cellular processes.
  • Resource Aware Artificial Intelligence for Future Technologies.
    The rapid spread of machine learning methods is based on the use of vast resources of data, computing power and energy. The development of efficient solutions is among the biggest scientific challenges and will permit the smooth transition of this technology from a purely scientific environment, where computing resources are almost unlimited, to general business applications with tightly restricted resources. The new Professorship of Resource Aware Machine Learning will promote the development of improved autonomous robots and medical equipment and in particular help start-ups to build prototypes and gain access to markets by significantly reducing the power consumption needed for data processing and storage. Partners in the project are the Catholic University of Eichstätt-Ingolstadt and the University of Bayreuth.

Ethics in artificial intelligence

The ministry also announced today that it will  create a new chair for Ethics of AI in Neuroscience at TUM. The interface between neurosciences and AI is expected to produce highly innovative discoveries. These will raise entirely new ethical issues, for instance how AI assistance systems can be integrated into the treatment of dementia in ways that are both clinically effective and ethically responsible. The research chair can draw on the outstanding expertise in the neurosciences already present at TUM, for example in the SyNergy excellence cluster and the Bavarian elite master’s program in neuroengineering. It will also form a strategic bridge between the Munich Center for Technology in Society (MCTS) and the Institute for Ethics in Artificial Intelligence, as well as to the Bavarian School of Public Policy, in order to study interdisciplinary interactions between technology and society. The new professorship will be positioned within the TUM School of Medicine, which is already addressing ethical issues related to new healthcare technologies with its institute for Ethics and Technology in Medicine.

First Humboldt professorship in AI

TUM was able to announce another high-profile AI appointment back in November: Prof. Daniel Rückert, an internationally renowned expert for AI applications in medicine, was named to one of the first two Alexander von Humboldt Professorships for Artificial Intelligence. Prof. Rückert has since accepted the appointment and is moving from Imperial College London to TUM.


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