Volkswagen takes stake in German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI); autonomous driving and the digital factory
Volkswagen is taking a stake in the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI), the world’s largest non-profit scientific institution specializing in artificial intelligence (AI). By acquiring participating in DFKI, the Volkswagen Group is reinforcing its research activities in the field of future-oriented digital technologies.
In addition to research in artificial intelligence, DFKI specializes in the fields of robotics, Industry 4.0 and driver assistance systems. In a joint project, Volkswagen and DFKI have started further to develop the software framework ROCK (Robotics Construction Kit) to allow direct, close cooperation between human beings and robots. The system was presented in a near-production scenario at the Volkswagen AG IT Symposium 2016.
Key features include the measurement of ambient conditions using several sensors, collision detection and avoidance as well as intuitive gesture control.
Artificial intelligence is a key technology for autonomous driving and therefore an investment in our future. In the future, our participation will allow us to work even more intensively in this area. We want to forge ahead with AI research in the automotive industry and beyond. We also expect our participation in DFKI to provide new impetus for the digitalization of our plants and the continuing automation of corporate processes.—Matthias Müller, Chairman of the Board of Management of the Volkswagen Group
Volkswagen and DFKI have cooperated on projects with and without public support for many years. The results of this cooperation include, as one example, the prototype of a smart car seat that can detect driver fatigue.
By acquiring a share in DFKI, Volkswagen has intensified the existing cooperation. Volkswagen will appoint a member to the DFKI Supervisory Board and play an active role in shaping the Center's technology and research roadmap. This will accelerate the transfer of innovations from high-level research to society and industry.
The German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence is a leading research institute in the field of artificial intelligence. In terms of number of employees and the volume of external funds (€42.5 million in 2015), it is the largest research center in the world in this field. More than 750 employees from over 60 countries are currently working on new software solutions, especially in the fields of machine learning, autonomous systems, robotics, data analysis, virtual reality and intelligent factory systems.
In October 2015, Google Deutschland acquired a share in DFKI—making it the only research company in Europe to have Google's participation as an industry partner through a capital investment and a seat on the supervisory board.
DFKI R&D projects are conducted in fifteen research departments and research groups, nine competence centers and six living labs. Funding is received from government agencies such as the European Union, the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology (BMWi), the German Federal States and the German Research Foundation (DFG)—as well as from cooperation with industrial partners such as Volkswagen and Google.
DFKI shareholders now include:
- Airbus Group
- BMW AG
- CLAAS Group
- Deutsche Post AG
- Deutsche Telekom AG
- Deutsche Messe AG
- Empolis Information Management GmbH
- Fraunhofer Gesellschaft e.V.
- Google Germany GmbH
- HARTING AG & Co. KG
- John Deere
- Intel Corporation
- KIBG GmbH
- Microsoft Deutschland GmbH
- Nuance Communications Deutschland GmbH
- RICOH Company, Ltd.
- Saarland University
- SAP SE
- Software AG
- Technische Universität Kaiserslautern
- University of Bremen
- VSE AG
- Volkswagen AG
Volkswagen Group IT symposium. At the Group IT symposium held in Wolfsburg, members of the Volkswagen Group and Brand Boards of Management and the Works Council considered IT solutions for the digital future of the Group. The main focus was on human-robot cooperation, augmented reality and digital customer solutions.
At the symposium, IT representatives presented a new form of intelligent human-robot cooperation which could be applied in production in a few years’ time.
For the first time, a new sensor configuration which can be combined in a modular way allows genuine cooperation between people and robots. The system can be operated intuitively using gestures, records ambient conditions using a combination of sensors and avoids collisions independently. This exhibit is a key step on the way to artificial intelligence in production.
Group IT’s virtual reality lab demonstrated the possibilities of merging the real and digital worlds using a plasticine car model and HoloLens smart glasses. The team projected a flow line simulation into the smart glasses. This was then made visible on the car model and could be viewed from any perspective. The field of vision of the HoloLens wearer including real and virtual content was projected onto the display. Other people could then join the field of vision via a video conference link.
Employees of Volkswagen Group of America presented a mobile application to assist dealers with the sales process. Modules such as a precise analysis of requirements, vehicle configuration, vehicle presentation and a search in actual vehicle stocks provide personnel with support when advising customers. Following a sales discussion, the dealer can configure an individually tailored electronic sales folder for the customer.
A further exhibit was concerned with automobile fleet data. At the Group’s data lab in Munich, 124 vehicles have been equipped with telematics solutions over the past few years. These cars have now completed more than two million kilometers in 17 countries. The collected fleet data are being used as a basis for mobility control hubs. Together with other smart city or environmental data, they will be combined to generate new services for autonomous vehicles, fleet managers, customers and traffic planners on the basis of artificial intelligence.