Several Swedish universities are taking part in a ten-year commitment by the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation to basic research in this field. Swedish industry is also involved.
“It is essential that Sweden, both as a research center and an industrial nation, can become an international leader in autonomous systems and software development. This field represents a shift in technology, described by many as the fourth industrial revolution,” says Peter Wallenberg Jr., Chair of the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation.
Large investments are being made around the world in autonomous systems and software development. This is not just about self-driving automobiles and products capable of making themselves. It includes smart energy systems, intelligent and resource-efficient transport systems, advanced decision support or providing means for emergency relief operations to reach remote disaster areas.
The Wallenberg Autonomous Systems Program, WASP, is a forceful research program focusing on basic research, education, training and recruitment in the field of autonomous systems and software development. The program is being run at Chalmers University of Technology, KTH Royal Institute of Technology, and the Universities of Linköping and Lund, with Linköping University acting as host for the program. The program will also involve research teams at other higher education institutions.
“The idea is to combine existing pre-eminent competences in the fields of electronic engineering, computer technology and computer science, found particularly at Sweden’s four major information and communication technology universities, although there will also be resources to bring in researchers at other universities,” Mr. Wallenberg explains.
The program includes a recruitment scheme offering attractive positions for researchers currently working outside Sweden.
WASP research will help to establish an extensive body of knowledge and development in a large number of fields in which intelligent vehicles, robots and complex software-intensive systems achieve autonomy in interaction with human beings.
The research program is the result of collaboration between the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation, universities and Swedish industrial companies. The total investment is SEK 1.8 billion, of which the Foundation is providing SEK 1.3 billion, and universities and private enterprise the remaining SEK 500 million.
A key element of the program is to build a platform for academic research and education capable of interacting with leading Swedish industries. One example is a graduate school, which will be run in collaboration with industry. At least 100 doctoral students will be admitted, of whom half will be industrial PhD students, employed in industry and conducting research equivalent to at least half time.
Infrastructure such as demonstration platforms and national demonstration arenas are other features of the collaboration.
“But it is important to stress that the program is not intended to drive industrial product development; it should focus on basic research, but with a marked transfer of competence to industrial research and further development. The aim is that Sweden should be an international leader in the scientific fields covered by the program, which will ultimately help to make Sweden more competitive as a technological and industrial nation,” Mr. Wallenberg adds.