Three Mexican projects were among 27 winners at the 2017 Google Research Awards for Latin America presented this week in São Paulo, Brazil.
Hiram Ponce Espinosa and José González Mora, researchers in the engineering faculty at the Panamerican University, won an award for their project “Transfer Learning Using Artificial Hydrocarbon Networks: A Case Study in Robotics.”
They are seeking to enable the transfer of knowledge between similar artificial intelligence devices and will receive funding from the tech giant for 12 months to continue their research.
“For me this recognition is very important,” Ponce told the news agency Conacyt Prensa.
“I feel very proud of winning a prize where my project was selected from hundreds of nominations. At the same time, it also means a lot of responsibility in terms of the work to be done . . . .”
He explained that their work is inspired by organic compound chemistry and its aim is for one robot to be able to autonomously transmit what it has been taught to another robot in a kind of teacher-student relationship.
He said they will use the money from Google to build and program more robots.
Luis Carlos González and Ricardo Manuel Loya from the Autonomous University of Chihuahua also won an award for their research project into how smartphones can be used to detect the presence of speed bumps and potholes.
González explained that a smartphone can detect inconsistencies in a road’s surface and then artificial intelligence algorithms can be applied to that detection in order to make a diagnosis of the quality of a particular road. Other drivers can consequently be alerted of approaching obstacles via their own smartphones.
Edgar Vallejo and Kevin Islas from the state of México campus of the Monterrey Institute of Technology received an extension of the award they won last year for their project “Predicting Zika Epidemics Using Social and Vectorial Contact Networks.”
“Social networks are not just used for our entertainment because the information that we put in them can become very useful to characterize certain scenarios,” Vallejo said.
All of the award recipients will receive US $750 to $1,200 monthly for a period of one year depending on whether the project is at master’s or doctorate level while the university faculties where the winners work will also receive funding as part of the prize.