The 'ZF AI & Cybersecurity Center launched in Saarbrücken (from the left): Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Michael Backes, founding director, CISPA; Tobias Hans, minister-president of Saarland; Wolf-Henning Scheider, CEO, ZF Friedrichshafen; Prof. Dr. Jana Koehler, CEO, DFKI and Prof Dr. Wolfgang Wahlster, former Director and CEO, DFKI.
German technology major, ZF is establishing a technology centre for Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Cybersecurity in Saarbrucken, Germany. As part of a worldwide network, the technology group is already developing AI applications for systems and components as well as for making production and services safer, more intelligent and efficient.
With the new 'ZF AI & Cybersecurity Centre,' the company will expand its activities in the area of AI research and will coordinate and control the company’s future AI activities from here. Wolf-Henning Scheider, CEO, ZF Friedrichshafen, announced the location for the technology centre in the presence of Saarland Minister-President Tobias Hans. Scheider also announced that as a new shareholder of the German Research Centre for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI) and strategic partner of the Helmholtz Centre for Information Security (CISPA), ZF will cooperate closely with these leading research institutions in the future. The deal is expected to be completed in the second quarter of 2019 and is subject to formal approval of all current shareholders.
Commenting on the new centre, Sceider said: “With the new Technology Center for Artificial Intelligence and Cybersecurity, we are taking our group-wide expertise in these key digital technologies to a new level. We are also in close proximity to the most respected research institutions in these disciplines which will strengthen our cooperation. We plan to recruit around 100 new, highly qualified people in Saarbrucken – and work with them to drive forward sophisticated developments for new, digitally connected and automated mobility solutions.”
According to ZF, two thirds of the 100 specialists based in Saarbrucken will focus on AI, the remaining will focus on cybersecurity. These new professionals will further complement its existing 300 professionals worldwide – based at the company’s headquarters for R&D in Friedrichshafen and at other locations in Germany and abroad – that are already developing solutions in the fields of AI, Industry 4.0 and Cybersecurity and use them in products and services.
In the future, the company says these activities will be coordinated at the joint 'ZF AI & Cybersecurity Center' and supplemented by the latest research and development results to support all ZF divisions worldwide. The objective is to create a common global AI platform for the optimisation of existing or development of new applications, products, services and processes.
ZF is expanding its international R&D network, consisting of both internal and external AI experts. The company also has access to AI expertise and specialised development resources through existing partnerships with NVIDIA, Microsoft, Intel Mobileye and through its involvement in development service provider ASAP.
Prof Dr. h.c. Michael Backes, founding director of CISPA said: “In autonomous systems, the issue of security is more important than ever before, requiring world-class cybersecurity research. That’s because we need to do in-depth research on the security demands that this technology places on us in order to achieve truly trustworthy security guarantees. In the end, this is the only way we can protect the systems from attacks and tampering – and thus strengthen the business location and win people’s confidence in this technology.”
AI and cybersecurity belong together
The choice of these two research institutes – DFKI headed by Prof Dr. Jana Koehler and CISPA with Prof Dr. h.c. Michael Backes as Director – is also based on a crucial fact: ZF’s use of AI, especially around automated driving, requires not only ensuring the safety of road users but also to maximise data privacy and IT security. The company’s own cybersecurity experts work closely with CISPA to safeguard new AI developments and algorithms against cyber-attacks as they are readied for volume production. This also supports, digitally, ZF’s 'Vision Zero' –a world with zero emissions and zero road traffic accidents.
According to the Tier 1 artificial intelligence is an essential component for automated driving functions and is indispensable on the path to autonomous driving. And in the future, the team at the new ZF location in Saarbrucken will be more than just the development force for automated driving functions. The company says they would be involved in predictive maintenance for wind power and cable car transmissions, intelligent transmission controls in passenger cars and commercial vehicles or machine learning in product development and production – ZF already uses AI-based functions in a variety of applications.