The technology company Continental and the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI) have agreed to enter into a partnership. DFKI, which is spread over several locations, is the world’s largest non-profit organization for researching artificial intelligence (AI). 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’,” says Kurt Lehmann, corporate technology officer at Continental, to mark the signing of the contract. “AI should support our employees in their work and provide them with new tools.” 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 artificial-intelligence technologies,” underlines Lehmann.
Joint research in DFKI ecosystem
As part of the collaboration, the Forschungslabor Intelligente Technologien, FIT for short (research lab for intelligent technologies), will be established at the DFKI location in Kaiserslautern. Here, in the ecosystem of DFKI labs, Continental employees will research the fundamentals of AI technology and address specific problems. This will include researching AI-supported methods of data analysis and software development. Continental is also working on developing AI-based tools that will help the more than 16,000 software and IT employees worldwide with quality assurance and upgrading functions.
Self-learning systems for better processes and quicker results
Continental engineers have already identified a number of applications for AI. For example, 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 is the head of the DFKI research sector “Smart Data & Knowledge Services.” For him, sustainable corporate management currently requires active and extensive knowledge management: “The main task is putting lean, decentralized and continuously learning organizations in a position to respond both flexibly and coherently.” For this purpose, DFKI experts are developing automated personal knowledge assistants, which are systems that identify documents and automatically detect people, projects, events or locations, for example. Knowledge assistants help configure workflows to specific requirements and provide relevant information in each field.
Faster object recognition thanks to artificial neural networks
Continental also 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. Artificial neural networks consist of adaptive mathematical units that can process and execute complex functions.
AI research at Continental
In 2015, Continental set up a central AI predevelopment department to coordinate the various AI research activities. The technology 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 Madras (India). In Budapest, Hungary, the Continental Advanced Driver Assistance Systems 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.
Continental develops pioneering technologies and services for sustainable and connected mobility of people and their goods. Founded in 1871, the technology company offers safe, efficient, intelligent and affordable solutions for vehicles, machines, traffic and transport. In 2017, Continental generated sales of €44 billion and currently employs more than 240,000 people in 61 countries.
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