Singtel to open SG$42m AI lab in Singapore

An artificial intelligence lab will be established by Singtel at Nanyang Technological University to focus on R&D across applications and use cases for AI, robotics, and advanced analytics in smart cities.

Singtel has announced that it will be establishing a SG$42.4 million Cognitive and Artificial Intelligence Lab for Enterprises (SCALE) to work on researching and developing applications across public safety, smart city, transportation, healthcare, and manufacturing solutions.

The lab, to be built under a five-year partnership with Nanyang Technological University Singapore (NTU Singapore), and the National Research Foundation Singapore, will focus on AI, robotics, smart computing, and advanced data analytics.

Around 100 Singtel and NTU researchers will work at SCALE, with 200 research engineers and students to be trained there too.

"This collaboration marks a significant step for Singtel to develop intellectual property in emerging technologies to support enterprises in their digital transformation and Singapore's Smart Nation objectives," Singtel Group Enterprise CEO Bill Chang said.

The lab is part of driving Singapore's smart nation initiative, Singtel said, with the telecommunications carrier also signing an agreement with the Singaporean Agency for Science, Technology and Research (ASTAR).

"For Singapore to achieve its Smart Nation vision, we have to keep pushing the frontiers of AI and develop innovative ways to process, analyse, and utilise big data," NTU acting provost professor Lam Khin Yong said.

"This is how the collaborative effort between Singtel and NTU on cognitive computing will make a huge impact, improving productivity for businesses while making our cities smarter and more efficient."

Singtel and ASTAR will additionally work on smart building automation systems, robotics, and Internet of Things (IoT) projects and their use cases across industries.

"Robots can be deployed to handle biohazardous waste, allowing companies to deploy their employees to undertake higher value-added jobs," Singtel said, adding that it would test these applications on its narrowband IoT (NB-IoT) and 5G mobile networks.

A model factory to be set up by ASTAR in 2018 would facilitate such tests.

Singtel earlier this year announced that it would have a Cat-M1 IoT network rolled out across Singapore by the end of August, at the time also flagging its NB-IoT network.

Singtel and Ericsson trialled NB-IoT technology during 2016, and in March this year unveiled an IoT ecosystem dubbed the Assured+ Consumer Connected Device Solution for operators, networks, and devices.

Ericsson and Singtel has also been working on a "blueprint" for 5G deployment across Singapore since January 2015, with the companies saying in October this year that they would invest SG$2 million in establishing a 5G development facility.

Singtel this week also announced signing a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Chinese bike-sharing startup Mobike for mobile payments through the Singtel Open Platform; IoT; marketing; and data analytics across Asia.

The MOU also covers Singtel subsidiary Optus in Australia, along with Airtel, AIS, Globe, and Telkomsel. Singtel said it has a combined total of 585 million mobile customers across these brands.

"Our goal is also to extend our network leadership to support the growth of IoT and expand the range of digital offerings to all customers across the group," Singtel International Group CEO Arthur Lang said.

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