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Speech by NTU President Professor Subra Suresh at the Delta-NTU Corporate Lab Open House

Speech by
Professor Subra Suresh
President, Nanyang Technological University

Delta-NTU Corporate Laboratory Open House

Wednesday, 19 September
Delta-NTU Corporate Laboratory for Cyber-Physical Systems,
Level B1, Academic Building North
61 Nanyang Drive, Singapore 637335

Mr Yancey Hai, Chairman, Delta Group,

Professor Low Teck Seng, CEO, NRF,

Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Good morning and welcome to NTU Singapore.

The world as we know it, is undergoing major transformations driven by digitalisation and technological advancements. The virtual and physical realms are increasingly integrated, creating a networked world that streamlines activities – from manufacturing and retail, to entertainment and education. The merging of the physical and virtual realms is what is known as cyber-physical systems, where various things connected to the Internet can be accessed or controlled remotely using devices such as smartphones.

High-tech household appliances are perfect examples of cyber-physical systems. People nowadays can check their refrigerators when they are at the supermarket to see what groceries are needed at home. Fridges and other appliances are also hooked up to a centralised system such as Google Home, which
allow users to switch on home appliances such as the air-conditioning via voice commands.

Whether it is managing home appliances or delivering world-class education, cyber-physical systems will be a mainstay in the road ahead. This is the focus of the Delta-NTU Corporate Laboratory for Cyber-Physical Systems. Launched in June 2016, the corp lab has already embarked on 15 projects focusing on four key research tracks – namely Smart Manufacturing, Smart Learning, Smart Learning and Smart Commercialisation. In a short span of two years, the joint research team has developed innovative solutions that can help industries stay ahead of the curve by embracing cutting-edge cyber-physical systems.

For example, under Smart Manufacturing, researchers have developed an intelligent and reconfigurable testbed platform known as IMPACT. It will allow industries to tap into technologies such as automation, artificial intelligence and the Internet-of-Things. Manufacturing plants will not only be able to quickly testbed working prototypes but also adapt to production line changes within minutes. This will allow them to remain relevant and competitive in today’s fast-paced environment.

Another innovation is the universal smart navigation system for automated guided vehicles (AGVs), which are portable robots used for industrial applications, such as moving goods around factory floors. Currently, they use sensors, and magnetic tapes or QR codes on the floor, to move goods around a manufacturing plant or warehouse. With the new system, AGVs would be equipped with enhanced navigation abilities such as obstacle avoidance, trajectory planning, and even automatic docking and charging. AGVs would also be able to operate in any complex and dynamic environment beyond factories such as hospitals and airports. 

Under the Smart Learning research track, the Corp Lab has developed a Smart Learning Platform that will equip professionals and companies with the latest Industry 4.0 skills. Supporting Singapore’s SkillsFuture initiative, the platform will combine the latest information from industry and data generated from participants’ learning proficiency. This creates a customised content package that enhances the overall learning experience. Content instructors will be able to tailor the course curriculum to match participants’ learning proficiency by using the analytics generated from the learning platform. 

Besides these innovative research projects, the Corp Lab has also secured 11 submitted patents and technical disclosure applications, along with 40 journal and conference publications. This is a commendable achievement in just two short years. And we are doing more.

Due to the expansion of our joint research activities, we are opening a second laboratory space today to accommodate the rapid growth in research projects. This will also allow the team to explore several new research ideas that may involve partners from industry, government and academia.

The early successes of the partnership and the expansion of joint research activities reflect the values of NTU’s Smart Campus vision, where we harness the power of digital and advanced technologies to support the discovery of new knowledge, and promote better learning and living experiences. We take great pride in nurturing partnerships with industry because it not only ensures research remains industry relevant, but also practical and beneficial to society.

Without further ado, I am delighted to witness the opening of the new lab space for the Delta-NTU Corporate Lab today. I wish the partnership every success as it aims to be at the forefront of cutting-edge cyber-physical systems.

Thank you