After spending 6 years working for Sony in Japan, I had the opportunity to move back to my native Switzerland in 2017. Now, I am working at Sony AI Zürich in Switzerland. At Sony AI, we are currently working on three flagship projects: Gaming, Imaging & Sensing, and Gastronomy, in collaboration with Sony’s business units and R&D Center.
My focus is a flagship project in the realm of Imaging & Sensing. In the scope of this project, we aim to combine new sensor technologies developed at Sony Semiconductor Solutions, with new machine learning methods and robotic actuators. We believe that if we can unlock the full potential of these new sensors by developing new types of learning and control algorithms, as well as the computing hardware that can properly handle the sensor data, the resulting systems will open up new application areas, for example in factory automation, autonomous driving or drones.
Many people think that AI and robotics are separate fields, but I strongly believe that we will see a trend away from AI technology that requires human-curated data and towards AI technology that collects the necessary data by itself – either by computation, for example using simulations, or by moving around and manipulating things in our world. This intersection of AI and robotics holds a great promise to further change the way we live, and Sony AI is a great place to work on this. Compared to some other companies, where AI technologies serve the purpose of improving efficiency or productivity, Sony AI has the goal to develop AI technology that works in harmony with humans, and to augment human capabilities and creativity, as we set our mission to “Unleash human imagination and creativity with Artificial Intelligence.”
Since I was a little boy, my dream was to become a great robotics researcher, so after my studies in Switzerland, I wanted to learn from the best robotics engineers in the world, and Sony was a great place for that. I was lucky enough to get my first Job at a Sony laboratory in Tokyo in 2011, where I was able to meet and work with many of the engineers and researchers who built the famous aibo and QRIO robots.
Through my career, I have had the pleasure to meet so many incredibly talented and passionate colleagues in our company. As expected, in Sony, there are excellent teams of engineers and researchers who are trying to create innovations and new values in the world.
Building a robotic system requires teams of specialists from different disciplines, ranging from mechanical engineering and material science to electrical engineering and computer science. But AI/Robotics researchers do not only have to master their individual specialty, they also should be able to communicate with researchers from other fields, including for example biology. Great AI/Robotics researchers have a deep expertise in one domain, and they also have a broad interest and experience in other relevant areas. They are team players. Therefore, I recommend you expand your horizons and acquire a broad base of knowledge.
Many people currently think of AI technology as algorithms that run in large data centers, and which are trained once, and then used as is. I believe, however, that the next generation of AI algorithms will run on hardware that is much closer to the users, and AI systems will continue learning and interacting with the environment. Compared to the conventional approach, this will lead to much faster results, lower power consumption, and better privacy for the users. Sony’s strength at the “last one inch”, including for example our image sensor technology, in combination with our history in AI and robotics research makes Sony a great place for this research – please join us in our effort to unleash human imagination and creativity!