Aston University research centre to focus on using AI to improve lives

Aston University research centre to focus on using AI to improve lives

March 27, 20243 min read

• New centre specifically focuses on using AI to improve society

• Current research is designed to improve transport, health and industry

• “There have been a lot of reports focusing on the negative use of AI...this is why the centre is so important now.”

Aston University researchers have marked the opening of a new centre which focuses on harnessing artificial intelligence (AI) to improve people’s lives.

The Aston Centre for Artificial Intelligence Research and Application (ACAIRA) has been set up to become a West Midlands hub for the use of AI to benefit of society.

Following its official opening, the academics leading it are looking to work with organisations and the public. Director Professor Anikó Ekárt said: “There have been a lot of reports focusing on the negative use of AI and subsequent fear of AI. This is why the centre is so important now, as we aim to achieve trustworthy, ethical and sustainable AI solutions for the future, by co-designing them with stakeholders.”

Deputy director Dr Ulysses Bernardet added: “We work with local, national and international institutions from academia, industry, and the public sector, expanding Aston University’s external reach in AI research and application.

“ACAIRA will benefit our students enormously by training them to become the next generation of AI practitioners and researchers equipped for future challenges.”

The centre is already involved in various projects that use AI to solve some of society’s challenges.

A collaboration with Legrand Care aims to extend and improve independent living conditions for older people by using AI to analyse data collected through home sensors which detect decline in wellbeing. This allows care professionals to change and improve individuals’ support plans whenever needed.

A project with engineering firm Lanemark aims to reduce the carbon footprint of industrial gas burners by exploring new, more sustainable fuel mixes.

Other projects include work with asbestos consultancy Thames Laboratories which will lead to reduced costs, emissions, enhanced productivity and improved resident satisfaction in social housing repairs and a partnership with transport safety consultancy Agilysis to produce an air quality prediction tool which uses live data to improve transport planning decisions.

The centre is part of the University’s College of Engineering and Physical Sciences and its official launch took place on the University campus on 29 February. The event included a talk by the chair of West Midlands AI and Future Tech Forum, Dr Chris Meah. He introduced the vision for AI within the West Midlands and the importance of bringing together academics, industry and the public.

Current research in sectors such as traffic management, social robotics, bioinformatics, health, and virtual humans was highlighted, followed by industry talks from companies Smart Transport Hub, Majestic, DRPG and Proximity Data Centres.

The centre’s academics work closely with West Midlands AI and Future Tech Forum and host the regular BrumAI Meetup.

About Aston University

For over a century, Aston University’s enduring purpose has been to make our world a better place through education, research and innovation, by enabling our students to succeed in work and life, and by supporting our communities to thrive economically, socially and culturally.

Aston University’s history has been intertwined with the history of Birmingham, a remarkable city that once was the heartland of the Industrial Revolution and the manufacturing powerhouse of the world.

Born out of the First Industrial Revolution, Aston University has a proud and distinct heritage dating back to our formation as the School of Metallurgy in 1875, the first UK College of Technology in 1951, gaining university status by Royal Charter in 1966, and becoming The Guardian University of the Year in 2020.

Building on our outstanding past, we are now defining our place and role in the Fourth Industrial Revolution (and beyond) within a rapidly changing world.

For media inquiries in relation to this release, contact Nicola Jones, Press and Communications Manager, on (+44) 7825 342091 or email:

Spotlight By Aston University

powered by

You might also like...