[Humans of FDL] Patrick Helber

Meet AI Researcher Patrick Helber


FDL: Hi Patrick. Is your background in EO or AI?

PH: My background is in AI. I’m a PhD candidate in the NVIDIA AI Lab at the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence. I focus on AI research and its applications. For example, I started working on the interesting research topic of AI applied to Earth Observation challenges during my Masters, where I trained different neural network architectures for the analysis of multispectral satellite imagery.

My PhD focuses on AI for good using satellite and aerial imagery. I believe AI will have a central role in helping governments and industries to address the most pressing global challenges on our planet. The progress in emerging AI methods together with the unprecedented quantities of Earth Observation data available from various different satellites will have the power to impact on our world in a positive and lasting way. In my current work, I leverage multiple satellite and aerial data sources to create maps for risk assessment. This important technology has the power to help the people most vulnerable to natural disasters or economic inequalities.

FDL: What are some of the challenges of bringing together EO and AI?

PH: The aim of my research is to bring forward AI research topics that contribute towards a solution for global pressing challenges as in particular stated in the UN Sustainable Development Goals. I think AI holds the potential to help in advancing the global sustainable development agenda. This aim, of course, requires a technology and knowledge transfer of our research to industry. I personally see this transfer potential for our research with the opportunity to accelerate innovation in industry and therefore to impact the social good.

In addition, when the Copernicus program was established, the initial estimate in prospective economic growth was roughly 30 billion euros through 2030. I really hope that companies adopt the provided Copernicus data and therefore allow this additional economic value to be created.


FDL: What has inspired you from the FDL experience so far?

PH: In our FDL research project we explore the possibility of AI to detect and map informal settlements. This can, for example, improve the health, wellbeing and education situation of people living in informal settlements. Working together with non-governmental and humanitarian aid organizations like UNICEF or UN-Habitat was very inspirational and important to understand the special needs when it comes to helping people in informal settlements. Also, seeing the power of pairing advanced analytics based on machine learning together with the knowledge of these experienced organizations was very exciting.

About Patrick Helber

Patrick is a PhD candidate in the NVIDIA AI Lab at the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI). He holds a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Computer Science with a major in Artificial Intelligence and a minor in Economics. His main research interests lie in the area of Machine Learning. Patrick is a passionate researcher particularly interested in AI research and its applications together with Earth Observation data to solving global pressing challenges. His research in Earth Observation has been sparked by the potential of AI together with satellite and aerial imagery to solve humanity’s grand challenges such as fighting economic inequalities or aid in natural disaster situations. He is a co-organizer of the MediaEval - Multimedia Satellite Challenge.