FiveAI announces two new world-leading scientific advisors to drive autonomous vehicle mission forward

Professor Andrew Blake and Doctor Subramanian Ramamoorthy bolster FiveAI’s academic roster, bringing fully autonomous vehicles closer to reality

Professor Andrew Blake is the Director of the Alan Turing Institute, the UK’s national research institute in Data Science, and an Honorary Professor in information engineering at the University of Cambridge. He is one of the world’s leading researchers in computer vision having completed a PhD in Artificial Intelligence at the University of Edinburgh in 1983, he later moved to Microsoft Research in Cambridge to found the Computer Vision Group which developed the algorithms for image processing and 3D vision underpinning several Microsoft technologies, including Kinect.

Dr Subramanian ”Ram” Ramamoorthy is a Reader in Robotics in the School of Informatics at the University of Edinburgh, affiliated with the Institute of Perception, Action and Behaviour. He leads the Robust Autonomy and Decisions research group, whose focus is on achieving interactive intelligence in autonomous robots capable of working with humans and other robots. He is an Executive Committee Member of the Edinburgh Centre for Robotics, one of UK’s leading centres for robotics research.

These latest appointments follow FiveAI’s announcement in October that Professor Philip Torr, head of the University of Oxford’s Torr Vision group, a global, state-of-the-art research team comprising 25 post-doctoral and PhD students doing pioneering work in the field of machine learning for computer vision would take up the role of FiveAI’s Chief Scientific Advisor.

“Fully autonomous urban vehicles need the industrialisation of emerging science from the fields of computer vision and machine learning to meet the clear safety goals, particularly in their ability to recognise objects, their states, motions and localities to the highest possible levels of accuracy.” said Professor Andrew Blake “Across the world, there is now a race to build an intelligent pipeline of technologies in fields where UK academics have been consistent pioneers and where we have some of our very best people engaged.  I am excited, alongside Phil and Ram, to help FiveAI, a British company, to succeed in leveraging our undoubted fundamental research leadership into winning that race and so create a global leader as this market explodes.”

“Even once fully autonomous vehicles can accurately perceive the world around them, they must plan their paths and interact with other scene actors cooperatively and safely. In an urban scene, that has become one of the most challenging research problems to solve since the numbers of actors and behaviours can be vast and the cost of making an error so huge,” added Subramanian ”Ram” Ramamoorthy of the University of Edinburgh. ”Not surprisingly early autonomous vehicle programs focused on reactive collision avoidance resulting in classic ‘frozen robot’ and other unusual behaviors which arguably made our roads less safe. But we now know how to use context-sensitive observations and learnt behaviours to predict what actors will do, update those predictions at high frequency and so build systems that predict and cooperate with other actors just like safe human drivers. Developing, integrating and commercialising this novel science into systems will help differentiate the FiveAI solution and I’m delighted to be working alongside FiveAI’s world-class team.”

Stan Boland, co-founder and CEO at FiveAI, said: “Safe fully autonomous driving in the urban environment remains the ultimate unsolved challenge. Achieving the perception accuracy and motion prediction performance required in the kind of cities we have here in Europe means solving some of the most complex problems in artificial intelligence and computer vision, and that requires the very best minds in their respective fields. Andrew, Ram and Phil are among the world’s leading authorities in visual perception, decision making and motion planning so we are honoured to have them aboard at FiveAI.”