Global News

Artificial Intelligence: Programmed for progress.

The Volkswagen Information Technology Center Munich (Data Lab) may be a mouthful to say. But describing the complex work that goes on behind these doors is more challenging. In a nutshell, the competence centre is responsible for machine learning and artificial intelligence.

Here, research is made on how artificial intelligence can help people make decisions for the future. The widely skilled team behind the scenes include IT experts, robotics specialists, data scientists, programmers, physicists and even mathematicians. Together, they work on ways to help accelerate corporate processes, optimise traffic flows and guide autonomous vehicles safely through traffic.


Says Volkswagen Group CIO Dr. Martin Hofmann, “Artificial intelligence is becoming a key competitive factor and will be an essential element in many technologies and corporate processes.” It’s for this reason that Volkswagen is laying the foundation for the independent development of AI systems.

“A.I. systems will provide support for people but people will remain the decision makers.”

At the Data Lab, Professor Dr. Patrick van der Smagt, who is responsible for AI research, works together with his team to research deep neural networks. Here, they explore and create algorithms that detect patterns and laws more reliably and frequently. These algorithms then gain information and compare it with has already been learnt.

“We are carrying out fundamental research in this field. Volkswagen is at the leading edge,” van der Smagt explains.



Apart from traffic flow optimisation and protecting sensitive data from attacks by hackers, research at the centre also involves looking into AI systems for intelligent robots which are to work hand-in-hand with human beings in the future.

For the team at Volkswagen, artificial intelligence is not an end in itself. They believe that these systems must always help human beings in meaningful ways. This is one reason an open source approach is adopted, where major sections of the software are made available to the public. This allows the development work carried out by the specialists is transparent and verifiable.

But for anyone feeling a little overwhelmed by the growing interest and research in AI systems, Hoffman had this to say: “AI systems will provide support for people but people will remain the decision-makers.”