Edge AI: Stronger together

December 21, 2020 | Some challenges are best faced shoulder to shoulder – like developing the chips, algorithms, and the hardware needed to integrate artificial intelligence directly into end devices, a paradigm also known as “Edge AI”. Marco Breiling, chief scientist at the Fraunhofer IIS Communication Systems division and Dr. Loreto Mateu, group manager at the Fraunhofer IIS Smart Sensing and Electronics division, talk about why their collaboration on Edge AI is so fruitful, and the benefits of working in an international team.

You are collaborating in various projects with a view to developing components for Edge AI. What can you achieve together that you wouldn’t be able to separately?

Loreto Mateu: Our goal is to develop a complete chain of neuromorphic hardware – or to put it more simply, to create an alternative to conventional computer processors modeled on the human brain. Such a complex technology requires a broad range of skills. Marco and I have both adopted AI tools that we need, but have different perspectives on them. We work in a way that is complementary to each other, so to speak – and we’re a fantastic match! While my group develops the analog components and analog integrated circuits, Marco’s group is devoted to the algorithms and digital components. This means we can combine the benefits of both technologies – and no doubt give the field of Edge AI a significant boost in the process.

Marco Breiling: We need each other in order to face up to this challenge – joining forces is the only way that we can do justice to such a complex topic.

Is a collaboration of this sort always plain sailing?

Marco Breiling: Given that we complement each other’s work, there is absolutely no competition between us. I’m not usually one to indulge in superlatives, but my collaboration with Loreto is simply the best. We each have complete confidence in the other: For example, we often stand in for each other, secure in the knowledge that our interests will be safeguarded 100 percent.

Ms. Loreto, you are Spanish by birth, and both working groups have a very international make-up. What are the benefits of such an international environment?

Loreto Mateu: In both groups we naturally collaborate at the human level, regardless of where we all come from. Nevertheless, my Spanish origins are sometimes useful: For example, the head of the ANDANTE project, which Marco and I are working on together, is from Mexico, so we can communicate very effectively in Spanish. My ties with Spain have also given rise to some great cooperations: When we applied for a Horizon 2020 project that also involves neuromorphic hardware, I secured the involvement of two Spanish partners – including a working group at the Polytechnic University of Catalonia, where I earned my doctorate.

Article by Janine van Ackeren


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