Prof. Alexandre Alahi

CIS – “Get to know your neighbors” Seminar Series 

Socially aware AI for Last-mile Mobility
Prof. Alexandre Alahi – Visual Intelligence for Transportation – EPFL ENAC IIC VITA 

Monday, 15th June 2020

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is poised to reshape the future of mobility with autonomous vehicles/robots tackling the “last mile” problem. The integration of these intelligent systems into our society remains a grand challenge: they need to co-exist with humans in close proximity. Yet, current AI implementations are not safe and do not convey trust in the population due to, for instance, unacceptable accidents involving self-driving cars. Delivery/social robots face similar issues, either freezing in crowded scenes or recklessly forcing humans to move away. To address these challenges, AI must go beyond classification tasks and develop broader cognition: learn and obey unwritten common sense rules and comply with social conventions in order to gain human trust. Robots should respect personal space, yield right-of-way, and ultimately “read” the behavior of others to effectively navigate crowded spaces. I will present a new type of cognition I call socially aware AI to address these challenges.

Alexandre is leading the Visual Intelligence for Transportation laboratory (VITA) in ENAC. Before joining EPFL in 2017, he spent multiple years at Stanford University (CS) as a Post-doc and Research Scientist. His research lies at the intersection of Computer Vision, Machine Learning, and Robotics applied to autonomous vehicles, and the built environment (digital twins). He envisions a new type of Artificial Intelligence (AI), namely socially aware AI, i.e., intelligent systems equipped with perception and social intelligence.

He won the CVPR Open Source Award (2012) for his work on Retina-inspired image descriptors, and the ICDSC Challenge Prize (2009) for his sparsity-driven algorithm that has tracked more than 100 million pedestrians to date. His research has been covered internationally by BBC, ABC, PBS, Euronews, Wall Street Journal, and other national news outlets around the world. Alexandre has also co-founded multiple startups such as Visiosafe, and won several startup competitions. He was elected as one of the Top 20 Swiss Venture leaders in 2010.