Nieke Roos
30 November 2020

The Dutch National Research Agenda (NWA) has awarded a grant of approximately 4 million euros to the Centrum Wiskunde & Informatica (CWI), the Dutch national research center for mathematics and computer science, for the proposal “Perceptive acting under uncertainty: safety solutions for autonomous systems.” In this project, led by senior CWI researcher Sander Bohté, breakthrough AI solutions will be developed – based on insights in human behavior – to seamlessly integrate smart vehicles in society. Bohté has formed a consortium with a wide range of partners from the academic, private and public sectors.

Humans are good at predicting and responding to others’ behavior, machines are not. This is a major obstacle for integrating ‘smart’ vehicles in our society. The CWI-led research project takes direct inspiration from principles employed in brains to chart out human behaviors to guide autonomous agents in society, following newly defined brain-inspired AI algorithms and laws and regulations. The consortium includes 2getthere, NXP, Thales, as well as Imec, NLR, TNO and the universities from Amsterdam (UvA), Delft, Eindhoven and Nijmegen,

Sander Bohté, senior researcher neural networks in CWI’s Machine Learning group, has been awarded a €4M grant from the NWA-ORC program. Credit: CWI

Bohté: “We focus on answering the question how humans, in particular ‘brains,’ deal with uncertainty in complex situations like traffic, and transfer these insights into both AI algorithms that are more predictable and recommendations for the associated regulatory control frameworks that incentivize such behavior. This human-centered approach will allow society to take back control: we strongly believe that societal needs should drive these far-reaching AI developments rather than the other way around.”

The grant has been awarded in the second round of the NWA program “Research along routes by consortia” (NWA-ORC). In total, more than 93 million euros have been made available. The NWA is contributing 81 million euros and (international) consortium partners are providing 12 million euros in the form of co-funding.

Commissioned by the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science (OCW), the Dutch Research Council (NWO) has been funding research in the context of the Dutch National Research Agenda since 2018. The research aims to make a permanent positive contribution to the future knowledge society by building bridges in the present and joining forces to address scientific and social challenges. Steps are being taken to achieve this aim through an annual funding round by NWA-ORC. This science-wide funding round focuses on enabling interdisciplinary research and innovation that can be used to bring social and scientific breakthroughs within reach.