Volkswagen partners with Nvidia to expand its use of AI beyond autonomous vehicles

Volkswagen is working with Nvidia to expand its usage of its artificial intelligence and deep learning technologies beyond autonomous vehicles and into other areas of business, the two companies revealed today.

VW set up its Munich-based data lab in 2014. Last year it pushed on with the hiring of Prof. Patrick van der Smagt to lead a dedicated AI team that is tasked with taking the technology into areas such as ‘robotic enterprise,’ or use of the technology in enterprise settings.

That’s the backdrop to today’s partnership announcement. VW wants to use AI and deep learning to power new opportunities within its corporate business functions and, more widely, “in the field of mobility services.” As an example, the German car-maker said it is working on procedures to help optimize traffic flow in cities and urban areas, while it sees the potential for intelligent human-robot collaboration, too.

“Artificial intelligence is the key to the digital future of the Volkswagen Group. We want to develop and deploy high-performance AI systems ourselves. This is why we are expanding our expert knowledge required. Cooperation with NVIDIA will be a major step in this direction,” Dr. Martin Hofmann, CIO of the Volkswagen Group, said in a statement.

Beyond the work on VW’s own brands, the car-maker and Nvidia are teaming up to help other startups in the automotive space. The VW Data Lab is opening a startup support program that is specialized on machine learning and deep learning with Nvidia’s help. The first batch will include five startups and start this fall. The duo is also reaching out to students with a “Summer of Code” camp that will begin soon.

Nvidia is already working with VW-owned Audi on self-driving cars — which they are aiming to bring to market by 2020 — but today’s announcement is purely about the data potential and not vehicles themselves. VW did ink an agreement earlier this year to work with Nvidia to develop AI-cockpit services for its 12 automotive brands, but it is also working with rival chip firm Qualcomm on connected cars and smart in-car systems, too.

This VW hookup is one part of a triple dose of automotive-themed news updates from Nvidia today.

Separately, it announced that Volvo and Autoliv have committed to sell self-driving cars powered by its technology by 2021. Nvidia also signed up auto suppliers ZF and Hella to build additional safety standards into its autonomous vehicle platform.