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University of Oxford embarks on cloud-fuelled AI research push with AWS

University collaborates with Amazon Web Services to accelerate the pace of technology innovation in a range of artificial intelligence-related fields with the help of cloud

The University of Oxford is teaming up with Amazon Web Services (AWS) to deliver a series of research projects designed to accelerate the pace of technology innovation within the fields of artificial intelligence (AI), robotics and data science.

The collaboration is being backed by a £7m investment by AWS, and will see the two organisations work together to create a portfolio of research projects spanning AI, robotics, cyber-physical systems and human-centred computing.

AWS will also lend financial support to the University of Oxford’s Lighthouse Doctoral Scholarship Programme by funding learning programmes offered by its Mathematical, Physical and Life Sciences Division for 25 PhD students between 2020 and 2022.

The partnership will go some way to supporting the continued growth of the university’s data science, AI and robotics research and development programmes, while giving students access to the large-scale computing resources they need to do their work, it is claimed.

“To support and inspire the research, student and staff access to fast-moving, state-of-the-art, large-scale computing resources is critical,” said the organisations in a joint statement.

Patrick Grant, pro vice-chancellor for research at the university, said being able to tap into Amazon’s technology capabilities will help streamline the operating model for research projects and accelerate cloud-based research at the institution.

“Cloud computing is an essential part of modern research,” said Grant. “A streamlined operating model for using cloud services will benefit all of our researchers. The Oxford Robotics Institute, the Cyber Physical Systems Group and the Human Centred Computing Group are leading the initial projects in the short term, but I look forward to growing the collaboration to bring research benefits across our research work more broadly.”

Max Peterson, vice-president of international sales for AWS’s worldwide public sector division, said: “With AWS, the university will be able to accelerate time-to-science as multiple, large experiments can be conducted in parallel with greater ease and in less time. And by driving cost down, researchers can dramatically increase the scale of computational experimentation.

“The collaboration demonstrates how academia can use the cloud to deliver excellent science with greater speed, flexibility and security, compared to using on premises datacentres.”

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