Automated driving and automated flying are two of the most exciting fields of our future mobility. What technical developments make you confident that machine-controlled vehicles on the ground and in the air will soon be part of our everyday lives?
Today, we are on the cusp of a mobile revolution – the large-scale introduction of mobile autonomous agents into broad areas of our everyday lives. This is primarily fueled by three trends in recent years: 1) continuous miniaturization and decreasing pricing of sensing and computing power; 2) breakthrough advances in the field of scene perception through artificial intelligence methods; 3) the wide availability of the necessary data.
You worked for several years as a technical manager for Mercedes-Benz on the development for self-driving cars. What do you think will help this revolutionary technology achieve a breakthrough and what role will AI play in this?
Despite immense progress in recent years, autonomous mobile systems are still far inferior to us humans, especially in understanding and acting in highly complex environments. The main reason for this is the lack of theoretical and practical methods that enable holistic perception, understanding, and action. Momentary manifestations of autonomous mobile systems can understand individual components of a scene very well, localize themselves, interact with people, cooperate with each other, plan actions, and act on them. However, they are not yet really able to combine all these isolated components into a holistic model, for example, to react appropriately in unforeseen, novel situations. For me, that’s the key to success, and artificial intelligence will make the crucial contribution.
How do you see Spleenlab’s role and opportunities in this field of AI-enabled „New Mobility“ and how can you support it in your role as an advisory board member?
Spleenlab is one of the few companies that explicitly looks at the synergies between driving and flying, both in terms of technology and especially in safety aspects. This is a very important factor in the industrialization of AI systems. I am very excited to support this with my industry experience as an advisory board member of Spleenlab.
You recently became a professor of autonomous mobile systems at Esslingen University of Applied Sciences, what made you take the step into academia?
In addition to my industrial activities, I have already been active in research, teaching and junior researcher development for many years. My move to a professorship was therefore not a decision against industry, but a decision for a new environment in which I can implement my personal priorities even better: sustainable research on intelligent autonomous systems, teaching and junior staff development, and strengthening cooperation between industry and academia.