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June 12, 2019

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City goes high-tech with AI park in Yangpu

Changyang Campus was yesterday named the city’s first artificial intelligence park in the old Donghua cotton mill, which was built in 1920.

Intelligent robots, gadgets incorporating facial recognition, autonomous driving and the Internet of Things are everywhere you look at the Changyang Campus in downtown Yangpu District. An unmanned shuttle bus, known as Apollo, carries guests around the campus.

China aims to take the lead in AI research and development, and the city has an “Intelligent Shanghai” plan to become a hot spot for AI.

Shanghai generates and uses a huge amount of data — flows of people, cargo, vehicles and capital — making it an ideal testing ground for AI applications, said Zhang Ying, deputy director of the Shanghai Commission of Economy and Informatization at the park opening.

Data and algorithms are the basics of AI research and the park on Changyang Road will create the best atmosphere for such research, said Ding Huanhuan, Yangpu deputy director.

Essential to the plan is a 5G network that already covers the whole park.

About 20 AI specialist companies have moved into the campus, making up about half of the enterprises there. They include teaching app Liulishuo, literally “fluent spoken English,” AIWAYS Auto, which is working on autonomous vehicles, and Rontgen Medical whose interest is in medical imaging.

Accenture’s Digital Hub, the company’s second research center in China, is working on the latest in robotic arms, an autonomous bus and manufacturing processes, and will help local firms achieve new levels of efficiency, the company said.

Baidu plans to set up its first innovation center in the campus, alongside an AI experience center. “We are upgrading the safety and stability of the Apollo shuttle bus, which is already quite able to navigate local roads,” a Baidu engineer said.

A center for research into brain-like chips is also in the campus. Operated by NeuHelium, a startup established by Fudan University, the Yangpu government and local AI company ENNEW in 2017, the center is focused on neuromorphic chips capable of processing and reacting to information in real time like the human brain.

Entering the park, visitors encounter robots and unmanned vehicles. Zhang Xin, a manager with the park’s property management company, supervises cleaning and security across the site on his phone.

Three security robots patrol the site round the clock with facial recognition cameras to detect wanted criminals. They can alert the police the instant a suspect is detected.

The street-cleaning robots avoid pedestrians and parked vehicles. Two robots clean the park after being charged and are emptied once a day.

Workers at the park can play with a table tennis robot or keep fit in an unmanned gym. AIPHA BOX, a renovated container with a pingpong table and a ball machine, costs 10 yuan (US$1.5) for 10 minutes. The robot inside changes tactics and difficulty based on the player’s proficiency, said Xu Jun, who developed the facility.

Xu said AIPHA BOX was developed for office workers and children to relax their eyes after staring at a screen for hours. His company is collaborating with Shanghai University of Sport to improve the experience, and boxes will be installed at innovation parks and communities.

An unmanned store, cafe and gym have robots making beverages, while others function as personal trainers at the gym.


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