Volkswagen launches new AI company to build prototype vehicle tech

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The Volkswagen Group recently launched a new artificial intelligence company called “AI Lab.” 

According to a press release from Volkswagen, the new company will be focused on forming partnerships with the greater tech industry and creating digital prototypes for its vehicles.

As Volkswagen-Porsche CEO Oliver Blume explained, the new firm’s aspirations will include connecting cars to outside systems:

“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.”

This could indicate a shift towards marrying current driver assistance software with external infrastructure.

External digital ecosystems

The tech and motor vehicle industries have spent the last half-decade focused on solving hard challenges related to autonomous driving and driver assistance. However, the emergence of a fully autonomous (self-driving) car has yet to be realized.

Many experts believe the challenge of autonomy may require connectivity to external infrastructure. This could come in the form of equipping vehicles with the hardware and AI software to connect to traffic signals, roads, and other vehicles.

Related: Microsoft revenue up 18% after ‘infusing AI’ across tech stack

Further advances could include networking vehicles together when they travel on the same roads to enable collision avoidance and shared sensing.

For its part, Volkswagen says the new AI Lab will focus on vehicle-to-vehicle communication as well as infotainment, predictive maintenance and advanced charging technologies.

Internal artificial intelligence

Volkswagen’s head of research and development, Michael Steiner, says AI Lab will be empowered to make its own deals with tech companies “irrespective of existing arrangements and other links in series production.” This indicates that the focus for the new company will be on rapid prototyping and, ostensibly, bringing AI solutions to production quicker.

The press release states that “explanatory talks” related to the company’s first products are already underway with potential partners.