Automated driving requires world-class performance by the high technology areas of artificial intelligence and robotics: two key themes for the Group Research division, which develops and experiments with innovative technologies.
You see artificial intelligence (AI) in action every day when Google displays products based on your search behavior or YouTube recommends interesting videos to you. The importance of this theme of the future for automakers and its priority in this high technology area are less obvious. The vast number and complexity of requirements related to automated driving will place the Volkswagen Group on the cutting edge of research into artificial intelligence. This is one of the reasons why the Volkswagen Group created the Group Research division, which carries out R&D into innovative technologies for all of the Group's brands in Wolfsburg with a department specifically dedicated to Automated Driving headed by Helge Neuner
"Automated driving is pretty close to the things that people used to imagine when they thought of the term intelligent robot. A car that is driving itself down the street faces an enormous number of challenges created by the speed of processes and the variety of situations it faces". (Helge Neuner)
The complexity involved in mastering traffic exponentially exceeds the requirements placed on autopilot systems in aircraft or driver-less subway trains. Another major problem is the fact that not all drivers always follow the rules of the road. For this reason, automated cars need a software that can completely and reliably react to unexpected situations. This means one thing: the car must learn to think on its own.
"Our work is based on collecting as many experiences from real driving situations as possible. This information also forms the foundation of artificial intelligence processes that we are implementing with increasing frequency. Our goal is for artificial neural networks to gain knowledge about the real world in development operations." (Helge Neuner)
One of the many research projects being conducted into automated driving involves simulating traffic conditions in major metropolitan areas of China. Drivers face particularly complex traffic situations there. These situations can be translated into a virtual reality in which computers create additional scenarios.
Surprisingly, video games are proving to be a big help in terms of hardware. Graphics processes play a key role in the development of automated driving because they can already quickly and simultaneously perform a number of different tasks at a relatively low price.