The McGill Centre for Intelligent Machines, CIM, was founded in 1985 to provide researchers in robotics, computer vision, speech recognition, and systems and control with a context in which to pursue their common goal: the understanding and creation of systems which exhibit intelligent behaviour.
The Centre now includes faculty members and graduate students from the departments of Electrical and Mechanical Engineering, and the School of Computer Science. It reports to the Faculty of Engineering and the Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research.
A large grant from the Quebec Ministère de l'Enseignement Supérieur et de la Science (MESS) was critical to the Centre's inception and early growth. Since 1989, infrastructure funding has been provided by the Fonds pour la Formation de Chercheurs et l'Aide à la Recherche (FCAR).
CIM was actively involved with the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIAR) which was established in 1984 but has unfortunately closed recently. Steven Zucker has been the Director of CIAR's Artificial Intelligence and Robotics program since 1991 and five CIM members were CIAR Fellows, three were CIAR-Precarn Associates, and one was a CIAR Scholar.
The federal government's Networks of Centres of Excellence program was first announced in 1989 and established 15 networks, of which the Institute for Robotics and Intelligent Systems (IRIS) is one. In the first phase of funding, CIM researchers led six of the IRIS projects and benefited from approximately 25% of the funds. These funds allowed CIM to support an increased number of researchers and technical staff, augment its experimental research, and substantially upgrade its computer network.
The second phase of IRIS funding commenced June 1994. Seven projects are headed by CIM reseachers and four CIM faculty are participating in other projects. A total of 11 CIM members are participating in 11 of the 28 IRIS projects. The current CIM funding portfolio is depicted in the following figure; its total value is $2,694,314.
Figure: Sources of funding
Physically, the Centre is spread over two locations. The fourth floor of the McConnell Engineering Building houses 38 offices, eight labs, a computer systems room and a video editing room. The laboratories include the Ambulatory Robotics Lab, the Mobile Robotics Lab, the Artificial Perception Lab, the Robotic Mechanical Systems Lab, two Vision Labs, a Speech Lab and a general lab. At 2020 University there are seven offices, a Computer Lab, a Speech Lab and the PSII Lab. The McGill Faculty of Engineering is currently in the process of adding a new building to its physical plant. As a member of the Faculty of Engineering, CIM will be getting new space over the next two to three years.
The Centre was home to 110 graduate students this year. Of these, 50 were Ph.D. students and 60 were Masters, and about one third of them were foreign students. Approximately a third of CIM students were supported by scholarships. The diagram below indicates the breakdown by subject area of the Centre's constituency.
Figure: CIM Chart