The future of the car has a clear roadmap: automated driving, e-mobility, connected vehicle concepts and 360° digitalization. To meet these challenges the Volkswagen Group has already opened numerous research centers and labs.
In Wolfsburg the Virtual:Engineering Lab, whose main activity is connected with the use of virtual reality for the development of projects, and the Smart:Production Lab, which works on the digitalization of production processes, are up and running. Then there is the Code:Lab in San Francisco, the Metropolis:Lab in Barcelona, the Digital:Lab in Berlin and the Data:Lab in Munich: top-class structures, each of which specializing in its own field, that enable the Volkswagen Group to remain at the cutting-edge in every sector.
A Lab that works with research centers all over the world
The Munich-based Data:Lab is the central competence center of the Volkswagen Group for artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning. Launched four years ago as a start-up, this lab boasts an international team of 50 IT experts, physicists and mathematicians from 15 countries. The Data:Lab collaborates with universities, research institutes and international start-ups to optimize the use of AI right across the Volkswagen Group. The transfer of knowledge within the Group is a huge priority. Representatives from different Group brands and markets are regular guests at the Data:Lab, where they collaborate on specific projects.
“The leading machine-learning team in the automotive industry”
Every day at 9.45 am, a stand-up meeting is held at the Data:Lab on Munich's Ungererstraße. It is the employees who principally take the lead. The team gathers at the company's central information hotspot to exchange the main topics of the day. Three large white boards are covered with colorful post-its, featuring all current projects, personnel matters, and topics.
A phrase at the top of the first board summarizes the team’s vision: "We are the leading machine-learning team in the automotive industry”.
AI helps workers to take decisions more quickly
The team is split into two clusters, which take an exploratory approach to specific questions to combine future technology with the business of the Group and its brands. The first group focuses on the "Smart Enterprise" area, working on developing and testing AI-supported business processes which, for example, offer employees comprehensive information even faster so they can take decisions more quickly. The second cluster is focused on the "Customer" area and develops solutions for the digitalization of customer relationships as well as mobility and smart city developments.
The system learns from experience
Since September 2016 the Data:Lab has been directed by Patrick van der Smagt, one of the leading European experts in the fields of robotics and deep learning. “We are trying to replicate certain basic functionalities of creatures with neurons. For example, seeing and interpreting things around us”, explains van der Smagt. “Deep machine learning is, to put it simply, an artificial system that identifies patterns and regularities based on image or sensory data. By entering examples, this algorithm becomes more and more efficient in identifying corresponding patterns successfully – the system thus collects knowledge from experience”.
Source: Volkswagen AG