Smart technology

Driverless cars and smart clothing: how the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI) is helping shape the future.

Autonomes Fahren: Computer übernehmen das Steuer
Daimler AG

Germany. They conduct research into human-robot cooperation, establish competence centres in fields as diverse as driverless cars and deep learning, and use living labs to test the cities and factories of the future. And these are just a few examples of the work done at the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI).

Where is the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence based?

At three sites in Kaiserslautern, Saarbrücken, Bremen – though its work goes far beyond Germany’s borders: currently, nearly 1,000 DFKI employees from more than 60 nations are involved in over 295 research projects. Product functions, prototypes and patentable solutions for information and communications technology are developed in 18 research departments and research groups, ten competence centres and seven living labs.

What does all this research produce?

At the Language Technology Lab for example, machines are taught human language – a crucial factor in human-robot interaction. As a partner of the IUNO project, the DFKI is looking at IT security in industry 4.0. Security is also the focus of a new Technical Inspection Authority (TÜV) platform that is being established for AI modules in driverless vehicles: in future, a vehicle’s “brain” will also be subject to testing, just as its “body” – the chassis, engine and all components – is today. One example of the far-reaching international cooperation is the European EASY-IMP initiative for scientific exchange about smart clothing.

Which products already boast artificial intelligence?

DFKI researchers have developed a “wearable” for joggers that protects them against subjecting joints to undue strain and injury: pressure sensors identify the wearer’s running style and correct the position of the foot in real time by using an electrical impulse to stimulate the calf muscle. The Robotics Innovation Center is working on mobile robot systems that are used for complex tasks on land, on water, in the air and in space. And a new exoskeleton is to facilitate robot-assisted rehabilitation for patients suffering neurological diseases.