ZF is establishing a Technology Centre for Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Cybersecurity in Saarbrücken. In a worldwide network, the technology group is already developing application possibilities with AI to make systems and components as well as production and services more intelligent, efficient and safer.
With the new “ZF AI & Cybersecurity Centre,” ZF is now expanding its activities in the area of AI research in order to coordinate and control the company’s AI activities from here in the future. Wolf-Henning Scheider, Chief Executive Officer of ZF Friedrichshafen AG, gave the go-ahead for the Technology Centre in the presence of Saarland Minister-President Tobias Hans. Scheider also announced that ZF, as shareholder of the German Research Centre for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI) and strategic partner of the Helmholtz Centre for Information Security (CISPA), will cooperate closely with these leading research institutions in the future.
“With the new Technology Centre for Artificial Intelligence and Cybersecurity, we are taking our Group-wide expertise in these key digital technologies to a new level. We are also in direct proximity to the most respected practical research institutions in these disciplines and can thus intensify our cooperation,” explained Wolf-Henning Scheider. “We will hire some 100 highly qualified new colleagues in Saarbrücken – and work with them to drive forward sophisticated developments on our way to new, digitally connected and automated mobility solutions,” continued Scheider.
The company plans to establish about two-thirds of its AI specialists at the new location in Saarbrücken. Another third of the experts from the new Technology Center will focus on cybersecurity. This complements the more than 300 colleagues who already develop and use solutions in products and services in the areas of artificial intelligence, Industry 4.0 and cybersecurity at the company’s headquarters for research and development in Friedrichshafen and at other sites in Germany and abroad.
In the future, all these activities will be consolidated in the joint “ZF AI & Cybersecurity Centre” and made available to all ZF divisions worldwide, supplemented by the latest research and development results. The objective is a common global AI platform for optimisation of existing or development of new applications, products, services and processes.
Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Michael Backes, founding director of CISPA: “In autonomous systems, the issue of security is more important than ever before, requiring world-class cybersecurity research. That’s because we need to do in-depth research on the security demands that this technology places on us in order to achieve truly trustworthy security guarantees. In the end, this is the only way we can protect the systems from attacks and tampering – and thus strengthen the business location and win people’s confidence in this technology.”
The choice of these two research institutes – DFKI headed by Prof. Dr. Jana Koehler and CISPA with Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Michael Backes as Director – is based on another crucial reason: When making use of AI, especially in road traffic, ZF needs to not only ensure the safety of road users but also maximise data privacy and IT security.
The company’s own cybersecurity experts therefore work intensively with CISPA to safeguard new AI developments and algorithms against cyber attacks as they are readied for volume production. ZF is thus also systematically pursuing its “Vision Zero” of zero emissions and zero road traffic accidents digitally in this way.
Artificial intelligence is an essential driver for automated driving functions and is indispensable on the path to autonomous driving. Vehicle manufacturers and mobility providers are already benefiting from the scalable and modular product family of the AI-capable central computer ZF ProAI.
RoboThink, which was presented at this year’s CES, is the most powerful supercomputer currently available for automotive applications. As a complete system solution with sensors, actuators and AI, ZF offers automated functions for vehicles of all classes from a single source.
ZF is thus expanding its international research and development network, which consists of internal and external AI experts. For example, ZF also has access to AI expertise and specialised development resources through existing partnerships with NVIDIA, Microsoft, Intel Mobileye and its participation in development service provider ASAP.