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Press Release

Friday, March 26, 2021

Université de Moncton To Host NB Power’s Artificial Intelligence Centre

As part of an innovative program of applied research, the Université de Moncton, NB Power, the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, Mitacs and the New Brunswick Innovation Foundation have announced an investment of $1.7 million over four years to create the new NB Power Artificial Intelligence Centre, to be located on the Moncton campus of the Université de Moncton.

The Centre will leverage expertise at the Université de Moncton to take advantage of new and emerging technologies in order to improve reliability, reduce costs and improve employee safety for NB Power. This will represent significant advantages for customers.

“The creation of the NB Power Artificial Intelligence Centre on the Moncton campus is a source of great pride for our university community,” noted Dr. Denis Prud’homme, President and Vice-Chancellor of the Université de Moncton. “Our partners’ confidence in the expertise of our researchers shows how important the Université de Moncton’s research ecosystem is in our community. Our establishment is taking on more and more the role of leader in artificial intelligence (AI), and we’re delighted to be able to use our expertise in the field to improve public utilities.”

In recent years, the Perception, Robotique et Intelligence Machine (PRIME) research group at the Université de Moncton has executed numerous AI applied research projects and carried out high-impact technology transfers with several industrial partners.

“The creation of the NB Power Artificial Intelligence Centre is coming at the right time for our team,” explained Moulay Akhloufi, professor in the Computer Science Department and Director of the NB Power Artificial Intelligence Centre. “This collaboration with NB Power will be a chance to develop innovative solutions using leading-edge AI, industrial vision and robotics technologies. We’ll be able to strengthen our position as a centre of excellence in AI. The Centre will also allow us to create new chances to collaborate with other partners and other researchers nationally and internationally, to attract the best talents in the areas of research carried out at the Centre and to train staff who are highly qualified in AI.”

The innovative technologies that our researchers and their students are experts in, such as probe design, robotics and AI, can be applied to the public utility sector and have the potential to transform how NB Power carries out its activities.

For example, data collected by a system of vehicle-mounted probes observing NB Power assets as they travel along a road — such as poles, transformers and the best approach to vegetation management — will be processed using artificial intelligence to identify, in real time, zones where maintenance is needed. This project has the potential to significantly improve monthly and cyclical asset assessments and to regularly provide data much more frequently and with greater accuracy, allowing the utility to concentrate on maintaining the right equipment at the right time.

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