BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN – Brunei Shell Petroleum (BSP) and Shell Deepwater Borneo will provide artificial intelligence (AI) devices and expertise to Universiti Teknologi Brunei (UTB) to improve science and technology research in the sultanate.

The three parties on Thursday signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU), described as a “gift to the nation” to develop advanced technologies in Brunei.

Under the MoU, UTB will receive the main hardware components of a machine vision lab, machine learning centre and digital realities centre.

“The lab can be used to develop machine learning algorithms to solve complex problems in fields such as road safety research, agri-food science and technology, green technology, water resources and energy,” the three organisations said in a joint statement.

Shell is expected to contribute AI equipment such as developer laptops, AI edge computing, augmented reality device, virtual reality device, AI do-it-yourself kits and conversational interfaces

UTB Vice-chancellor Professor Hjh Zohrah Hj Sulaiman said the AI machinery will allow the university to conduct research in various areas, including economic analysis, increasing rice production and climate change.

“These facilities will be able to develop the best talents and equip students with first-class hands-on experience and knowledge of the advanced technologies,” she said in her speech.

The vice-chancellor also expects the facilities to benefit the Ministry of Education’s Science Technology Environment Partnership (STEP) Centre as it can organise activities that enable primary and secondary school students to discover the potential of AI.

She added that the initiative is also in line with the government’s Digital Economy Masterplan 2025, which aims to transform Brunei into a ‘Smart Nation’.

Agnete Johnsgaard-Lewis, Shell country chair and BSP managing director, said AI and machine learning experts will give guest lectures at UTB and hackathons are expected to be organised with the varsity as part of the MoU.

“During the implementation of the MoU, UTB, BSP and Shell can discuss where they can further cooperate in AI to benefit the country and develop our local youths to be future-ready in this field,” she said.