German Tier 1 supplier Continental has entered into a partnership with the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI), claimed to be the world’s largest non-profit organisation for researching artificial intelligence (AI). Continental states that the collaboration will focus on improving internal processes and on the mobility of the future.
“The collaboration with DFKI is part of our strategy to strengthen Continental as a technology company by using artificial intelligence at all levels. Continental will become an ‘AI-empowered company’, AI should support our employees in their work and provide them with new tools,” said Kurt Lehmann, corporate technology officer at Continental.
Furthermore, the company states 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 artificial-intelligence technologies,” underlined Lehmann.
Joint research in DFKI ecosystem
As part of the collaboration, the Forschungslabor Intelligente Technologien, (FIT) (research lab for intelligent technologies), will be established at the DFKI location in Kaiserslautern. In the ecosystem of DFKI labs, Continental employees will research the fundamentals of AI technology and address specific problems. This would include researching AI-supported methods of data analysis and software development.
The component major states it is also working on developing AI-based tools that will help more than 16,000 software and IT employees worldwide with quality assurance and upgrading functions.
Continental states the engineers have already identified a number of applications for AI, for instance, in material flow, machine learning can be used to create more precise forecasts of raw materials requirements. DFKI has well-honed skills in this area of technology. Professor Andreas Dengel the head of the DFKI research sector ‘Smart Data and Knowledge Services.’ For Dengel, sustainable corporate management currently requires active and extensive knowledge management: “The main task is putting lean, decentralised and continuously learning organisations in a position to respond both flexibly and coherently.”
For this, DFKI experts are developing automated personal knowledge assistants, which are systems that identify documents and automatically detect people, projects, events or locations. For instance, knowledge assistants would help configure workflows to specific requirements and provide relevant information in each field.
Faster object recognition through artificial neural networks
Continental employs AI in its product development. In 2020, the company plans to produce, for the first time ever, neural networks on a larger scale with its fifth generation cameras for faster object recognition. The artificial neural networks consist of adaptive mathematical units that can process and execute complex functions.
In 2015, Continental set up a central AI predevelopment department to coordinate the various AI research activities. The company is collaborating with Nvidia, Baidu and many other research institutes in this field, including the University of Oxford, the Technische Universität Darmstadt and the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Madras. In Budapest, Hungary, the Continental Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) business unit opened a center of excellence for deep machine learning in May 2018. By the end of 2018, the technology company will employ around 400 engineers worldwide with specific AI expertise and is looking for further talented people for product and process development in artificial intelligence.