Visit from Czech Prime Minister Highlights UMD Research Capabilities in AI and Computer Vision

Thu Mar 07, 2019

The prime minister of the Czech Republic, Andrej Babiš, visited the University of Maryland on March 6 to learn more about research involving artificial intelligence, robotics, computer vision, and virtual and augmented reality.

Babiš, accompanied by 14 aides and more than a dozen international journalists, toured two facilities, meeting for several hours with Maryland researchers before heading back to Washington, D.C., for an official state visit with President Trump on March 7.

Babiš’s first stop was the Robotics Realization Lab, part of the Institute for Systems Research (ISR). He discussed the latest advances in facial recognition technology with Rama Chellappa, a professor of electrical and computer engineering, and Carlos Castillo, an assistant research scientist in the University of Maryland Institute for Advanced Computer Studies (UMIACS).

The prime minister also engaged in talks on robotics and artificial intelligence with Dinesh Manocha, a professor of computer science with a joint appointment in electrical and computer engineering, and Cornelia Fermüller, an associate research scientist in UMIACS.

Last stop on the whirlwind tour was the Maryland Blended Reality Center, where Babiš met with Amitabh Varshney, professor of computer science and dean of the College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences.

Varshney gave the prime minister and his aides an overview of the center’s groundbreaking research in virtual and augmented reality. The visitors were then shown demos on the use of immersive technologies for medical training, foreign language learning, and how a virtual opera performance might offer an alternative to opioids for pain management.

The UMD tour was coordinated by William Regli, director of ISR, and the university’s Office of International Affairs.

Photo caption: Andrej Babiš (center), prime minister of the Czech Republic, tries on a virtual reality headset while CMNS Dean Amitabh Varshney (right) explains ongoing research in the Maryland Blended Reality Center. Also present is Hynek Kmoníček (left, bow tie), the Czech ambassador to the United States.