Press Releases

February 9, 2022

The University of Washington and Amazon today announced the Science Hub, an effort to advance innovation in basic robotics, artificial intelligence technologies and their applications.Alex Alsbaugh/University of Washington

The University of Washington and Amazon today announced the Science Hub, an effort that deepens the relationship between the two organizations and will advance innovation in basic robotics, artificial intelligence technologies and their applications.

Amazon’s initial investment of $1.9 million will support a wide range of programs, including scholarships for doctoral students, researcher collaboration, and support for collaborative research events. The hub’s initial focus will accelerate AI, robotics, and engineering in the Seattle area while embracing nearby academic institutions and the public through events.

“We are thrilled to partner with Amazon to advance research and learning in the College of Engineering and beyond,” said UW President Ana Mari Cauce. “The incredible potential for world-changing discoveries across all disciplines and sectors represents the best of what is possible when academia and industry join forces to accelerate innovation here in the Pacific Northwest. , which is home to our two organizations.”

Housed within the College of Engineering, the hub is expected to broaden its scope over time and address additional challenges at the intersection of technology, industry and society.

“Solving the toughest challenges in science and engineering requires collaboration between bright minds in industry and academia,” said Alicia Boler Davis, senior vice president of Customer Fulfillment at Amazon. “This hub deepens our engagement with a research powerhouse in our backyard, enabling Amazon scientists and UW researchers to work together to address these challenges and contribute to the scientific community through open research.”

The hub encourages a new generation of researchers to tackle complex problems, identified by Amazon and addressed by UW’s robotics labs.

Joshua Smith will lead the hub. He is also a professor at the Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering and the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.Tara Gimmer/Jeeva

“These kinds of real-world challenges and problems are increasingly a scarce strategic resource for robotics and AI researchers,” said the hub’s inaugural director, Joshua Smith, who is a professor at the Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering and is the Milton and Delia Zeutschel Professor of Entrepreneurial Excellence in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. “The hub will enable our students and faculty to advance the state of the art in some of the most challenging open research problems in robotics and AI. And this is only the beginning of the mission.

“The research center aligns with our strategic vision to advance engineering excellence for the public good. We are excited to further deepen our relationship with Amazon and leverage our research strengths to address these types of challenges and develop solutions that will benefit everyone,” said Nancy Allbritton, Frank & Julie Jungers Dean of Engineering.

Click here for more information and to find out how to apply for funds from the Science Hub.

Michael Wolf, an Amazon Robotics AI senior scientist who will serve as the UW research liaison, said the hub will launch with an initial focus on robotics as a collaboration between Amazon Robotics AI and the College of Engineering.

“Addressing challenges in autonomy, computer vision, and machine learning is important both to Amazon and to the robotics community as a whole,” Wolf said. “We have already created great momentum in defining flagship programs in robotic manipulation and 3D perception at UW, and we look forward to expanding our engagement with UW and building a joint community of researchers here in Seattle. .”

Amazon and the UW have worked closely since the 1990s, leveraging their proximity to each other. Amazon has provided learning opportunities for students through project funds and scholarships, support for faculty through chairs and research funding, and new spaces for learning and collaboration through support in capital. Thousands of UW alumni work at Amazon, many of whom hold leadership positions. Dozens of Amazon professionals have served in volunteer positions at UW over the years, serving as advisors on UW boards and committees.

Many UW faculty are also Amazon Scholars, a program designed for scholars around the world who want to apply research methods in practice and help business solve technical challenges without leaving their academic institutions.

“As someone with close ties to both organizations, I’m thrilled that the hub can both seed new ideas and deepen the bonds between our researchers,” said Siddhartha Srinivasa, Director of Robotics AI at Amazon and Holder. from the Boeing Endowed Professorship at the Allen School. . “My colleagues at UW excel at solving complex, interdisciplinary problems, and the breadth of Amazon’s Execution Network provides a rich set of AI and robotics problems. This collaboration will catalyze the invention and exploration by bringing together our diversity of perspectives and approaches to problem solving.

For more information, contact Smith at [email protected]

Tag(s): College of Engineering • Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering • Joshua Smith • Nancy Allbritton • Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering