Ten years ago we opted for AI, Industry 4.0 and multidisciplinarity, today it's a trend

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During the time a new institute was created in 2013 at the Czech Technical University in Prague, which set itself the task of linking computer science with other disciplines such as  mechanical engineering, robotics, electrical engineering, biomedicine, energy or construction, very little attention was paid to areas such as Industry 4.0 or artificial intelligence in the Czech Republic. The Czech Institute of Informatics, Robotics and Cybernetics (CIIRC) bet on this vision and now it can display a number of achievements in its tenth anniversary, which it is currently celebrating.

First of all, it has managed to attract back to its ranks from abroad eminent researchers such as Jan Šedivý, Tomáš Mikolov, Josef Šivic, Robert Babuška, Josef Urban or Torsten Sattler and, together with founding professors such as Vladimír Mařík, Vladimír Kučera, Václav Hlaváč, Zdeněk Hanzálek, Olga Štěpánková, Lenka Lhotská and others, to create excellent research teams. The institute with more than three hundred employees is also unique in that it has been able to secure funding for its operation and is in principle self-financing, especially thanks to highly competitive grants and contractual research.

It has also managed to build a modern headquarters at Dejvice campus in Prague in a record time of three years. The CTU received a state subsidy in the amount of one billion crowns for the construction and today you will find modern scientific laboratories, teaching spaces and innovative testbeds filled with experts, students and state-of-the-art-technology that connect science with practice.

Thanks to the activity of scientists and visionaries gathered around the CIIRC under the leadership of its founder Prof. Vladimír Mařík, many of whom later met again at the National Centre for Industry 4.0, the National Initiative Industry 4.0 was prepared for the Czech government. The Czech-German Centre of Excellence RICAIP is developing technological possibilities for smart and sustainable industrial production based on the principles of Industry 4.0.

„Supporting excellent science, excellent scientists and knowledge transfer to industry are among my priorities. That is why I am a fan of workplaces like the CIIRC CTU, where they are not satisfied with average and satisfactory results. Our society must not fall asleep in artificial intelligence research, and the CIIRC knows this well,“ says Helena Langšádlová, Minister for Science, Research and Innovation.

„The vision and goals with which we approached the building of the new scientific institute have more than come true, we foresaw the importance of the now massively discussed artificial intelligence, and that is why multidisciplinary teams that are among the best rated in the Czech Republic and Europe can operate here. It is artificial intelligence that significantly influences the way our society develops and changes,“ says Prof. Vladimír Mařík, Scientific Director of CIIRC CTU. „It is a priority for us to develop AI systems at least at the European level and on ethical principles as defined in the EU. That is why we are part of several European networks of excellence for artificial intelligence such as Tailor, ELISE, Vision, euRobin and other important AI activities such as CLAIRE, ELLIS or ADRA.“

CIIRC silver medals were also presented during the celebration of the Institute’s first ten years of operation, which includes a three-day series of conferences, and workshops called Industry-AI Days 2023. These were awarded to those who have contributed significantly to the creation and continued operation of the Institute: Mirek Topolánek, who as Prime Minister personally first supported the idea of the new Institute; Vít Dočkal, whose bold vision and track record in project management helped make the CIIRC a reality; and Holger Hoos, an AI scientist who has supported the CIIRC in the European research community and helped the CIIRC gain an international reputation.

„The success of AI made in Europe critically depends on AI talent and expertise across all of Europe. CIIRC, CTU and the Czech AI ecosystem at large are outstanding examples of the kinds of efforts and contributions that really make a difference,” says Holger Hoos, Alexander von Humboldt Professor of AI at RWTH Aachen University.

During the festive morning, leading representatives of Czech science, industry and government saw concrete demonstrations of the advanced approaches in manufacturing being developed by the research teams within the RICAIP centre. A demonstration of the production of a model car in the Testbed for Industry 4.0 presented the advantages of the latest concept of distributed modular production, in which various technologies and remote workplaces are dynamically involved in the production process using AI algorithms. The aim is to be able to quickly adapt production to sudden changes and automatically ensure smooth operation in the event of sudden disruptions in supply chains or when product parameters change based on customer requirements.

The Prague testbed is involved within the RICAIP research infrastructure together with experimental laboratories in Brno at CEITEC BUT and in Saarbrücken, Germany. Guests were able to see the robotic stations of this workplace live during an online connection with the teams of the German institutes DFKI and ZeMA using virtual reality and similar connection with Brno laboratory was also established. The testbeds within RICAIP offer companies an ideal environment for proof of concept in advanced manufacturing.

„We are delighted that in ten years we have managed to create an institute with truly distinctive scientific personalities and results, and that we can say that we are succeeding in pushing forward our vision as we set out to do. However, it is necessary to compare ourselves with the best and to cooperate with scientific institutions and companies in the Czech Republic, Europe and all over the world. Therefore, at the end of the festive event, we symbolically released balloons with the CIIRC inscription so that they, like our institute, continue to rise to greater heights,“ said Dr. Ondřej Velek, the Director of the institute, wishing all the best for the anniversary of the institute.

More photos can be found HERE.

Photo: J. Ryszawy, CTU

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