AI Lab (SAIL), Stanford University
SAIL, short for Stanford Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, is Stanford University’s artificial intelligence research laboratory and was founded in 1963.
John McCarthy started the laboratory after he transferred from the Boston-based Massachusetts Institute of Technology to Stanford University. From 1965 to 1980, the facility was the leading AI research center in the country and was the site of the early ARPANET.
In 1980, it merged with the school’s Computer Science Department and eventually moved to the Margaret Jacks Hall in the university’s main campus. In 1986, the facility was demolished and later became Portola Pastures. The Lab reopened in 2004 and Sebastian Thrun became its new director.
Today, SAIL continues to be the intellectual home for researchers in the Stanford Computer Science Department, and focuses mainly on Artificial Intelligence. Its Gates Computer Science Building, where it currently stands, employs more than a hundred people sharing the building with more than 30 robots.
With their mission to “revolutionize our perception of how we understand the world”, SAIL’s AI Laboratory continuously turns findings into data pertaining to issues that people care about. With numerous sources of information (online data, scientific data, humanoid robot sensor data, i.e.), the lab continuously looks to develop the next generations of theories, algorithms, and systems that will aid them.
Some of the fields the lab has contributed to are bio-informatics, cognition, computational geometry, computer vision, decision theory, machine learning, neural networks, planning, probabilistic inference, sensor networks and robotics, among others.
Among notable projects that the lab has undertaken is the gecko-like “sticking” robot that is aptly named StickyBot. This robot comes with synthetic setae that are made of an elastomer to cling to walls and surfaces like a gecko would.