UPMin positioning as AI hub in the region

The University of the Philippines in Mindanao (UPMIN) is looking to become a hub of artificial intelligence or AI in the region.

“One of our key programs right now is the Mindanao Innovation Initiative of which AI is one of our key programs under the initiative,” Chancellor Lyre Anni E. Murao said.

Another project is Genomics through the Philippine Genome Center Mindanao.

“You can marry these two technologies in future, by combining these two technologies you can create bio-markers for specific diseases cancer for example because we don’t have that yet for the Filipino population,” Chancellor Murao said.

She said there are several academic programs and research programs that is geared towards developing AI in the region.

Dr. Jose Ildefonso Rubrico, a professor at UP Mindanao has developed several AI technologies in the field of agriculture and disaster response.

“As early as 2018 we have already conceptualized this program, the Philippine Sky Artificial Intelligence (SkAI-Pinas) and the ASIMOV (Autonomous Societally Inspired Mission Oriented Vehicles) programs,” Rubrico said.

The SkAI-Pinas focuses on putting AI on remote sensing in order to hasten the widespread dissemination of satellite imagery data to Filipinos.

While ASIMOV uses unmanned automated vehicles (UAV) such as drones to help farmers detect the onset of banana diseases faster.

The ASIMOV is the DOST flagship research and development program in artificial intelligence and robotics. It comprises two projects; the Harmonized Aerial Watch and Knowledge based Survey or HAWKS project, and the Robot for Optimized and Autonomous Mission Enhancement Response or ROAMER.

The HAWKS (air component) and the ROAMER (land component) aims to developed AI enhanced robot technology capable of independent navigation, collision avoidance, vision-based feature detection and environmental mapping.

“These programs have really been conceptualized and implemented in order to help specifically ASIMOV the productivity sector and the agri-banana industry in Mindanao,” Rubrico said.

SkAI-Pinas and ASIMOV are spearheaded by UP Mindanao in partnership with the Department of Science Technology- Advance Science and Technology Institute (DOST-ASTI).

These are two of the nine AI projects in the country launched by the DOST Philippine Council for Industry, Energy, Emerging Technology Research and Development (PCIEERD) in April 2021.

Meanwhile, Chancellor Murao said the academe’s role is to support the innovation ecosystem.

“We are here to help develop the critical manpower that would be needed in the future for jobs related to AI,” Murao said adding that they will also be supporting programs on research and innovation related to AI.

She cited the soon-to-be offered Bachelor in Data Science program which is a concrete action in supporting iniatives towards AI.

“The innovation ecosystem is there and the academe is always there to support this ecosystem,” she said. (PIA/RG Alama)

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