Continental taps Berkeley University’s AI expertise

Continental taps Berkeley University’s AI expertise

Business news |
By Christoph Hammerschmidt

Continental is expanding its international artificial intelligence network to Silicon Valley. Following similar agreements with the University of Oxford and the German Research Institute for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI), the Hanover-based automotive supplier has now signed a five-year contract with the Berkeley DeepDrive (BDD) research group at the University of California.

Among other things, the joint work focuses on optimizing the speed of neural networks in the car and securing AI systems in safety-critical applications. The main goal of the cooperation: AI research results should find their way into series production as quickly as possible.

Berkeley DeepDrive deals with state-of-the-art technologies for machine vision and learning in automotive applications. Home of the multidisciplinary center is the Institute of Transportation Studies at the University of California at Berkeley. Sponsors from industry promote cooperation between different disciplines in order to bring new technologies into automotive applications. Berkeley DeepDrive’s Director is Professor Trevor Darrell, Head of the Partners for Advanced Transportation Technology (PATH) Department.

Two research areas of the Berkeley DeepDrive are in the foreground for Continental in the first year of the partnership. One is the “testability of AI algorithms in safety-relevant systems”: drivers must be able to rely on the fact that the complex technology of their vehicles functions reliably in operation. That is why BDD develops methods with which the reliability of AI systems can be better tested. On the other hand, Berkeley researchers are investigating ways to make AI applications particularly memory efficient in order to accelerate and optimize neuronal networks. This makes it easier to use the AI methods in vehicles later on.

“Our involvement in Silicon Valley and Berkeley is supported above all by the highly interesting research in the discipline of Explainable AI, i.e. explainable artificial intelligence, and the optimization and compression of deep neural networks that take place there,” explains Demetrio Aiello who overlooks Advanced AI Research for Continental.

One of the core topics of the research activities is “Explainable AI”. This is about understanding exactly how an AI system makes its decisions. Because to be able to test artificial intelligence in detail, you have to know exactly how it works.

In order to coordinate the various activities of research in the field of artificial intelligence, Continental has been running a central pre-development program for AI topics since 2015. The technology company cooperates with NVIDIA, Baidu and numerous research institutes in this field such as the University of Oxford, the Technical University of Darmstadt, the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI) and the Indian Institute of Technology Madras (India). In Budapest (Hungary), Continental’s Driver Assistance Systems Division recently opened a competence center for deep machine learning.

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