Mohamed bin Zayed University of Artificial Intelligence (MBZUAI) has established two new departments and four associated graduate programmes dedicated to robotics and computer science, catering to the surging global demand for the disciplines, which are expected to reach more than AED800 billion and AED500 billion by 2030.

The new departments will complement the university’s existing computer vision (CV), machine learning (ML), and natural language processing (NLP) departments, which are ranked among the top 20 globally by CSRankings, and will act as academic homes for new faculty, researchers and postdoctoral fellows, and students in robotics and computer science.

Aligned with the formation of the new departments, the university has launched master’s and Ph.D. programmes in robotics and computer science. The new programmes will help further develop the UAE’s wider Artificial Intelligence (AI) ecosystem and strengthen its position as an international hub for AI research and innovation.

Professor Eric Xing, President of MBZUAI, said: "The addition of these two new departments represents MBZUAI’s lasting effort in developing a solid foundation for research excellence and innovation in artificial intelligence. The university will continue to bring into Abu Dhabi world leading faculty and researchers in the fields and to empower students to become pioneers with highly sought-after skills in developing advanced AI tools and applications across industries. Given the digital renaissance we find ourselves in, skills in these disciplines are in high demand.”

The Robotics Department will focus on rigorous, high-impact, original research, emphasising robot learning and robot algorithms rather than the development of new robot hardware. Topics of interest include deep learning, control theory, robot manipulation, quadruped locomotion, human-robot interaction, robot-assisted surgery and healthcare, swarm robotics, precision agriculture, and environment and infrastructure monitoring.

Robotics is a transformative technology, revolutionising sectors such as manufacturing, healthcare, agriculture, and transportation. Research indicates strong demand for robotics expertise in the coming years, with the robotics technology market expected to surpass AED800 billion in value by 2030. This demand will be critically hampered by a predicted global talent shortage, with up to 85 million jobs potentially going unfilled by 2030 due to a lack of skilled people to fill them.

Meanwhile, the Computer Science Department will provide unparalleled depth in the foundation technologies that have given rise to the phenomenal growth and impact of IT in the last four decades, also with a focus on entrepreneurship and sustainability. The global computer science job market is booming, with projections of a 14.5 per cent CAGR from 2021 to 2027 and an estimated 3.5 million jobs by 2026, the programme will help cater to the high demand for advanced computer science skills, both in the UAE and beyond.

The master’s programmes in computer science and robotics will take two years, including a compulsory six-week internship, while the Ph.D. will take four years, including a compulsory three-month internship. The programmes’ dual focus on academic research and industry engagement is designed to provide students with world-leading theoretical and applied skills, bringing maximum impact to the UAE.

Professor Timothy Baldwin, Acting Provost of MBZUAI, said: "MBZUAI is at the forefront of AI education and research, making our programmes distinctive and globally competitive. Our Computer Science Department will be an academic home for faculty, researchers, and students in fundamental computing topics, with the master’s and Ph.D. offering extraordinary technical depth and very strict entry criteria. The Robotics Department will focus on human-centred and autonomous robotics research, as well as the development of the next generation of robotics practitioners with deep skills in both AI and robotics, supporting careers at the cutting edge of academia, industry and government. Mandatory internships ensure that our students graduate well prepared to drive technological progress, whichever path or sector they choose.”

Currently, there are no comparable programmes available in the UAE, allowing MBZUAI to distinguish itself and position the UAE as a global AI leader. The two departments will also serve to highlight the interdisciplinary nature of AI, combining computer science and robotics with domains such as CV, ML and NLP.

Applications for the 2024 admissions year will open on 1 September 2023.