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Rolls-Royce eyes next-gen AI to boost digital services

Rolls-Royce will co-operate with IT research institutes in the UK and Germany to increase its digital capabilities, particularly in the field of artificial intelligence.

The engine maker says it has signed a tentative agreement with the London-based Alan Turing Institute to conduct collaborative data science research and to develop "next-generation artificial intelligence".

Projects will explore how data science can be applied on an industrial scale, how AI can be employed across supply chains, data-centric engineering and predictive maintenance, and the role of data analytics and AI in science.

R-R chief digital officer Neil Crockett states the partnership is about "delivering real-world impact from AI technologies… on an industrial scale".

He says AI is "central to unleashing huge value" for R-R's customers and for the manufacturer's internal processes.

Alan Wilson, chief executive of the Alan Turing Institute, says the partnership with R-R covers strategic areas of developing data science and AI to "tackle real world problems" and "train future generations in these transformative subjects".

R-R has additionally signed a similar tentative co-operation agreement with the Hasso Plattner Institute in the German city of Potsdam.

That partnership will concentrate on AI, design thinking – which the Derby-based manufacturer describes as "creative problem-solving" – data security and e-learning.

R-R says HPI is "Germany's university excellence centre for digital engineering" and offers an "especially practical and engineering-oriented study programme in computer science that is unique" in the country.

HPI will work with R-R's R² Data Labs research and development organisation, which has activities elsewhere in Germany, India, New Zealand, Singapore, the UK and USA.

Alastair McIntosh, head of technology programmes for civil aerospace at R-R and director engineering & technology for the manufacturer’s German operations, says: "We believe that working with academics, OEM partners, niche start-ups and a broad range of other trusted third-parties this kind of collaborative innovation will unlock the most potential value from data."

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