Continental has announced that it has agreed to enter into a partnership with the German Research Centre for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI), to collaborate on improving internal processes and on the mobility of the future. DFKI is spread over several locations, and is claimed to be the largest non-profit organisation for researching artificial intelligence (AI). Continental said it believes that AI-based software and machine learning will enable the future of automated and autonomous driving.
As part of the collaboration, the Forschungslabor Intelligente Technologien, (FIT) research laboratory for intelligent technologies, will be established at the DFKI location in Kaiserslautern, Germany. Continental employees will research the fundamentals of AI technology and address specific problems at this location. This will include researching AI-supported methods of data analysis and software development, the company noted. Continental is also said to be working on developing AI-based tools that will help its 16,000+ software and IT employees worldwide with quality assurance and upgrading functions.
Continental said that its engineers have already identified a number of applications for AI. These include material flow, where machine learning can be used to create more precise forecasts of raw-materials requirements. DFKI noted that sustainable corporate management currently requires active and extensive knowledge management. For this purpose, the research centre’s experts are developing automated personal knowledge assistants, which are systems that identify documents and automatically detect people, projects, events or locations. Knowledge assistants help configure workflows to specific requirements and provide relevant information in each field, it explained.
AI is being employed by Continental in its product development, the technology company noted. In 2020, for the first time ever, the company plans to produce neural networks on a larger scale with its fifth-generation cameras for faster object recognition. Artificial neural networks consist of adaptive mathematical units that can process and execute complex functions, Continental observed.
In terms of AI research within the company, Continental set up a central AI predevelopment department in 2015 to coordinate the various AI research activities. Continental is collaborating with NVIDIA, Baidu and other research institutes in this field, including the University of Oxford, the Technische Universität Darmstadt and the Indian Institute of Technology Madras. Additionally, in Budapest, Hungary, the Continental Advanced Driver Assistance Systems business unit opened a centre of excellence for deep machine learning in May, 2018. By the end of 2018, the technology company will have about 400 engineers worldwide, with specific AI expertise and is looking for further talented people for product and process development in this area.
Kurt Lehmann, Corporate Technology Officer, Continental, said the collaboration with DFKI is part of the company’s strategy to strengthen itself as a technology company by using AI at all levels. AI should support Continental’s employees in their work and provide them with new tools, he added. “Furthermore, AI is the central pillar of mobility in the future. We are now working on the assumption that autonomous driving will not be possible without AI technologies,” underlined Lehmann.
The main task is putting lean, decentralised and continuously learning organisations in a position to respond both flexibly and coherently, noted Professor Andreas Dengel, Head, Smart Data & Knowledge Services research sector, DFKI.