Texas proving grounds to test AI in the real world


How do you test out how AI will interact with physical systems in a real-world environment? If you’re SparkCognition, an infrastructure-focused artificial intelligence (AI) company, you build a physical laboratory and testbed and let your engineers go wild.

The company announced the opening of what it’s calling HyperWerx, an autonomy facility that will help showcase the potential of AI integrated with physical systems and a proving grounds where SparkCognition and partners can throw some high tech spaghetti at the wall.

These types of test beds have a long lineage in robotics labs like Willow Garage and with engineering playgrounds like Bell Labs. In a sector that’s often thought of as software-first, this kind of embodied testing is an important step in bringing AI to the real world.

“When you work with technology as nebulous as software, it can be challenging to visualize exactly how AI and physical systems will work together. Beyond that, it is simply not possible to develop new physical applications without the experimentation, testing and safety validation process,” says Amir Husain, Founder and CEO of SparkCognition. “With that in mind, we conceived HyperWerx – a place where we can truly explore the interplay between AI software and the physical systems, which I believe will be a core driver in shaping the future of society.”

The new facility sits on 50 acres in the greater Austin area. One of the key areas of focus will be robotics and aerial vehicles designed for infrastructure inspection and other tasks, including commercial and defense applications. HyperWerx will allow SparkCognition to deploy and test complex sensor payloads. It will also be a useful testbed for the company’s SkyGrid platform, a joint venture with Boeing designed to be the world’s first aviation operating system built on AI and blockchain. The company has big plans for AI technology for applications like defense via SparkCognition Government Systems, a wholly owned subsidiary devoted to government and national defense.

“As technology progresses exponentially, our physical world is increasingly intersecting with the digital world – and exploring the fusion of hardware and software has never been a greater imperative,” says Steve Nordlund, Vice President and General Manager of Phantom Works at The Boeing Company, and Chairman of the Board of Directors at SparkCognition. “With the launch of HyperWerx, SparkCognition is proving its ongoing commitment to bringing the potential of AI to life, solving real world challenges facing its customers and partners.”