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February 1, 2024
German auto manufacturing giant the Volkswagen Group has established its own artificial intelligence laboratory.
The new unit has been launched in recognition of the growing importance that digital products based on AI will have in the automotive industry, and is tasked with bringing innovations to vehicles across the entire VW Group.
Described as a “globally networked competence center and incubator,” the AI Lab company will identify new product ideas and coordinate them internally across the VW portfolio.
That promises to be a sizable task, as the group encompasses 10 different brands from five European countries, including automakers as diverse as Porsche, Skoda, Lamborghini, Audi and Cupra.
Among the areas where AI is already making an impact in the automotive sector are infotainment, navigation, speech recognition, vehicle functionality and the integration of digital ecosystems.
But Volkswagen says this is just the start. It believes there is massive potential and identified high-performance speech recognition and services that connect users’ own digital environments with vehicles, as two areas that could be developed further immediately.
It is also looking closely at AI-optimized charging cycles for electric vehicles, predictive maintenance and integration with smart homes.
At the same time, as work progresses in these areas, AI Lab will also be identifying new ideas, and – the VW Group hopes – entering into collaborations with existing tech companies to accelerate concepts and prototypes towards production.
Oliver Blume, CEO of the Volkswagen Group, explained: “We want to offer our customers genuine added value with artificial intelligence. We aim to link external digital ecosystems with the vehicle, creating an even better product experience.
“Collaboration with technology companies is crucially important for us. In the future, we intend to simplify cooperation in organizational and cultural terms.”
Given the pace at which the AI sector is evolving, the group believes the need to expedite processes is key, and to that effect promises AI Lab will be “slim and powerful” operationally. A team of AI experts will liaise with all the individual brands, while the involvement of different brands in AI Lab’s supervisory board is also planned.
Perhaps even more significantly, the group also indicated that it would be open to working with anyone externally, with Michael Steiner, head of research and development, saying it would be happy to pursue initiatives with partners “irrespective of existing arrangements and other links in series production.”
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