Artificial intelligence at ŠKODA AUTO
A modern, increasingly promoted technology in the carmaker’s internal processes and activities
n the world of technology, artificial intelligence (AI) means the ability of machines to take advantage of the properties usually associated with the human mind. These technological features can adapt to the environment or learn, among others, and include systems using cognitive functions or programmes interacting with the environment, recording or evaluating experiences, solving problems and even being creative. As far as its long-term strategy is concerned, the carmaker wants to use them in all major products and services while simultaneously applying them to the digitisation, automation, acceleration and scalability of decision-making processes.
Apps using artificial intelligence are among ŠKODA AUTO’s main strategic topics. This is part of the carmaker’s digital transformation as set out in Strategy 2025, and they play an equally important role in the company’s IT Strategy. Technology permeates virtually the entire company. The AI Competence Center focuses on it, but it is also an important topic for innovation departments such as InnoTeam and ŠKODA AUTO DigiLab. (see the “Who deals with projects?” section).
The carmaker already uses artificial intelligence, for example, in the form of the Intelligent Virtual Assistant (IVA), which facilitates company processes, such as recruiting new employees or exchanging phones in IT Points, etc. (see ŠKODA Mobil 2/2020). We present other AI projects on the following pages. ED
Interesting links regarding the use of artificial intelligence in practice and everyday life can be found on ŠKODA Space
Who deals with projects?
AI Competence Centre
It is tended to by the ŠKODA IT team, and ŠKODA AUTO provides support to all areas in partial projects. It also focuses on developing AI solutions internally and standardising the platforms and tools used in the car industry.
It forms part of the GGS – Business Strategy and Innovation Management department, and each ŠKODA AUTO area has a representative in it. InnoTeam supports the innovative involvement of AI in a programme’s proof of concept, through which financial support to test the solution can be obtained.
The laboratory of the PSZ – Central Technical Service department is working on innovative control and diagnostic systems based on AI and supporting solutions of Industry 4.0.
ŠKODA AUTO DigiLab
A subsidiary that focuses on developing new solutions in the field of digitisation and mobility. In the case of AI, it seeks out and tests projects that can be implemented in ŠKODA AUTO processes. In cooperation with IT ŠKODA and other internal departments, it actively supports the implementation of AI projects.
Head of FI – Information Technology
How important is artificial intelligence to ŠKODA AUTO?
It represents a key part of our company’s strategy. It helps us to move forward all our products – for example, in the areas of assistance systems or voice control. At the same time, it allows us to improve internal processes. We find many examples in the field of administration, as well as Production and Logistics.
To what extent will this technology affect car development in the years to come?
In my opinion, the automotive industry currently has two main technological drivers: 5G mobile networks and artificial intelligence. Thanks to them, we can expect many new services and features. For me, the basis of innovation consists of the transfer of huge amounts of data from the car to a place with great computing power, which makes it possible to run demanding artificial intelligence algorithms. Voice control, assistance systems and the like already have great potential, but there’s much more to come. ED
See how Klaus Blüm, Head of FI, describes the importance of artificial intelligence for ŠKODA AUTO
LET’S USE AI TO OUR ADVANTAGE
INTERVIEW WITH PETR ŠVARC FROM THE FIT – IT ENTERPRISE ARCHITECTURE & TECHNOLOGY DEPARTMENT
Which artificial intelligence projects is your team currently involved in?
We’re working on 10 projects, mainly those that improve the carmaker’s internal processes. These include OPTIKON in logistics, with which we wanted to increase container occupancy and reduce the number of shipped containers (and, thus, the production of CO2) and the time required for loading.
Are these complex solutions, or are you inspired by systems that are already running?
The OPTIKON project was more complex and required not only to develop the solution together with our IT and Business colleagues but also that we choose the technology. In order to address the optimisation of container scanning, we had to deploy a platform that could handle such a requirement. We now want to use it on other shop floors – for example, in our paint shops.
Your team, however, is also involved in developing AI systems directly in vehicles.
Yes, we’re involved in predicting gear pre-shifting in real-time, so that we can properly adjust the engine behaviour. We also work on car personalisation; based on customer behaviour, we predict their choices of car functionalities, such as air conditioning.
Are you trying to use AI solutions that already work elsewhere, or are you thinking up projects that are tailored to internal needs?
We use both, we always prioritise the benefits that solutions provide to users. For example, our own development in car personalisation would not make sense, as it would take years. By contrast, we could prepare the monitoring of car parks internally. In general, we don’t need to reinvent the wheel. You need expertise for such decisions, and our team is ready to respond to any idea or question regarding the choice of the right solution.
In this issue of ŠKODA Mobil, we also describe the carmaker’s innovation ecosystem. Do employees themselves get involved with their ideas for AI?
We’ve established close cooperation with the GGS – Business Strategy and Innovation Management department, which keeps good track of innovative projects in the company, because we think the innovation ecosystem is one of the most promising channels of communication with employees. I’d like to encourage them to use the ecosystem directly or through their supervisors and share their ideas with us. Don’t miss any opportunity to increase the value and prestige of ŠKODA AUTO! ED