PolyU and Hanson Robotics inaugurate Centre for Humanistic Artificial Intelligence and Robotics to foster translational research

The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) and Hanson Robotics Limited (Hanson) signed a Memorandum of Understanding to establish the Centre for Humanistic Artificial Intelligence and Robotics (CHAiR) for translational research with the goal of advancing the well-being of humanity.

The partnership integrates PolyU’s strength in interdisciplinary research and Hanson’s well-known humanoid robotics platform to explore technology applications. Sophia, Hanson’s most advanced human-like robot, will work with PolyU researchers to enhance the contribution of AI and robotic technology for social and commercial benefits.

Research into and applications of AI and robotics are essential to the advancement of industry. As an interdisciplinary research and development centre, CHAiR brings cross-faculty collaborations in research fields such as AI, the internet of things (IoT), neuroscience, design, computer science, mechanical engineering, material science, healthcare and the humanities.

In collaboration with Hanson, CHAiR supports innovation and entrepreneurship in Hong Kong and the Greater Bay Area. PolyU Prof. Jiannong CAO, Dean of Graduate School, Chair Professor of Distributed and Mobile Computing, and Otto Poon Charitable Foundation Professor in Data Science, is the principal investigator and administrative director of CHAiR. Prof. Cao and Dr David HANSON, CEO and Founder of Hanson Robotics, are the co-chair of the Centre’s steering committee.

Witnessed by Prof. Jin Guang TENG, President of PolyU, and Mr Doug GLEN, Executive Director of Hanson Robotics, the MoU was signed by Prof. Christopher CHAO, Vice President (Research and Innovation) of PolyU, and Dr Hanson.

During the signing ceremony on 5 December 2022, Sophia made conversation with the guests. She said, “I look forward to learning many new skills and abilities. With your help, maybe I can learn how to be a nurse, a teacher, a concierge, a librarian. You can teach me how to be a better companion, a more skilful artist, a funnier entertainer.”

Dr Hanson said, “CHAiR is perfectly positioned to refine and improve the performance of Sophia-class robots in ways that promote the growth of a new service robot industry. Once the industry starts to expand, so too will investment in improved hardware, software and manufacturing technologies.”

Prof. Teng said, “Academia-industry collaboration is one of the most productive mechanisms for creating and implementing innovations. There is tremendous untapped potential for humanistic social robots. Let us aspire that CHAiR will be a major catalyst for the onset of the age of humanistic robots.”

Prof. Cao, who is also Director of the Research Institute for Artificial Intelligence of Things (RIAIoT), said the Institute has been working on practical solutions to key challenges in advanced AIoT technologies and applications. He said, “It is a natural evolution for RIAIoT to partner with Hanson Robotics to tackle even more ambitious opportunities in humanistic AI and social robotics. CHAiR will play a unique and important role to combine Hanson’s know-how with world-class academics here at PolyU.”

Hanson Robotics is an AI and robotics company dedicated to creating socially intelligent machines that enrich the quality of our lives. Sophia is the world’s first robot citizen and the first robot Innovation Ambassador for the United Nations Development Programme.

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