“In three years, artificial intelligence will permit intelligent dialogue with machines”

Gipuzkoa, News

35th anniversary of the IKERLAN Artificial Intelligence unit

The technology centre, a pioneer in Spain in the development of this technology since 1985, specialises in the development of systems capable of learning the desired behaviour, predicting their deterioration and intervening remotely without human intervention, thus guaranteeing people’s safety

Artificial Intelligence applications developed by IKERLAN have been evolving technologically to respond constantly to the needs of the industrial fabric

On 29th April IKERLAN is organising a webinar on the challenges and the keys to the application of Artificial Intelligence in industry

Endow machines with human-like capabilities, such as the ability to predict, reason, learn and adapt in order to solve problems. That is artificial intelligence and that is what IKERLAN’s Data Analytics and Artificial Intelligence team has been doing for 35 years. The research community then envisioned a highly robotic future, with intelligent, humanoid-shaped robots replacing humans in their functions.

However, Artificial Intelligence has arrived in a different way, almost invisibly introducing itself into different aspects, many of them every day, and providing them with new capabilities. In the industrial field, the massive availability of data (Big Data) and the enormous computing capabilities will allow, within three to five years, the development of systems capable of learning the desired behaviour, predicting their deterioration and intervening remotely without requiring human intervention, all of this while ensuring the safety of people. “In three years, artificial intelligence will permit intelligent dialogue with machines” states Josu Bilbao, head of the Information and Communication Technologies area at IKERLAN. Precisely, with the aim of explaining the keys and trends of this technology and its applications in the industrial field and in day-to-day life, IKERLAN is organising a webinar on 29 April. The event will address the main challenges and the keys to Artificial Intelligence in order to implement solutions based on this technology in the industrial field.

Three decades creating smart solutions for industry

The powerful technological know-how accumulated since 1985 and the constant adaptation to new technologies has led to the centre researching and developing solutions that, in a few years’ time, will allow, for example, a wind turbine or solar panel to anticipate malfunctions, or lifts that are capable of ‘self-diagnosing’ a problem and advising the maintenance manager of the optimal way to repair it.

The Artificial Intelligence applications that the centre is working on respond, in the same way as always, to the real needs of industry, which is increasingly committed to these technologies as a tool for smarter machines. A pioneer in the Basque Country and in Spain in the field of artificial intelligence, IKERLAN has managed to bring together the talent, knowledge and technological capability to be able to offer the industrial community the most advanced technologies in Artificial Intelligence, developing solutions tailored to the needs of Basque companies. Thanks to technology transfer, the centre has contributed to its competitiveness on the international market in sectors such as railways, lifts, capital goods, machine tools and energy.

Indeed, this ability to solve the real challenges faced by the companies in the region is the major distinguishing feature and contribution of value of IKERLAN, combining in-depth knowledge of the problem to be solved with the ability to implement Artificial Intelligence solutions in practical applications and in a competitive manner. “The great differentiating feature of IKERLAN lies in our capacity to develop multi-technology products and systems for different sectors, which is combined with our expertise in the field of artificial intelligence, to provide intelligence and advanced functionalities to a number of industrial products and systems, ensuring their reliability. To be able to make a system such as a train, lift or wind turbine smart, you must first master the different building blocks that make it robust, safe and competitive. For all these reasons, we are the leading centre for the application of artificial intelligence solutions in industry.”, says Bilbao.

From system planning to systems capable of ‘self-diagnosis’

Since 1985, when IKERLAN set up the Artificial Intelligence unit with four researchers (today there are more than forty people in this team) it has developed AI projects for a wide portfolio of leading clients in the Basque Country, such as Ingeteam, Fagor Arrasate and CAF. It has also developed emblematic projects that have shaped the history of its Artificial Intelligence unit, such as the planning of Metro Bilbao in 1995 and the VEA robot, a mobile robot, the navigation of which, developed 25 years ago by IKERLAN (and awarded a prize at the robotics championship in Yokohama, Japan), anticipated the technology incorporated in intelligent domestic vacuum cleaners. Projects developed by the team in the early stages also included expert systems applied to banking operations and industrial sectors.

One of the star projects that the technology centre is currently working on in order to remain at the forefront of AI in its industrial application is FRACTAL. A pioneering international project, based on artificial intelligence and combining technologies such as edge computing, big data and 5G, with the aim of endowing machines with intelligence and cognitive capabilities, in sectors such as energy, transport and industry.

In the field of Artificial Intelligence, IKERLAN works with agents such as the CSIC (Spanish National Research Council), the University of Granada, the University of Oulu (Finland) and the University of Nottingham (England), among others. In the Basque Country, in addition to Mondragon Unibertsitatea, it also collaborates in the work of doctoral theses and scientific papers with the other universities, as well as with other agents of the BRTA alliance to which it belongs.



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