ŠKODA AUTO is launching the ‘AIM.Lab’ in partnership with the Technical University of Ostrava VŠB-TUO. The acronym AIM.Lab stands for Artificial Intelligence in Manufacturing Laboratory. The initiative is the first of its kind in the automotive industry. The lab, which is located on the campus of VŠB-TUO, will be the focus of the collaborative work between the university and the Czech car manufacturer. The three main areas of interest are data analysis, machine learning and AI applications, and optimisation challenges in industrial practice.
Dr. Michael Oeljeklaus, ŠKODA AUTO Board Member for Production and Logistics, emphasises, “The collaboration between ŠKODA AUTO and the Technical University of Ostrava is a win-win situation; we combine theory and practice and create tangible added value in the field of artificial intelligence – both for us as a carmaker and for the students, who benefit immensely from the direct practical experience. I am convinced that the new AIM.Lab will further strengthen and future-proof the Czech Republic as an automotive location.”
Professor Václav Snášel, Rector of VŠB – Technical University of Ostrava explains, “Artificial intelligence is playing an increasingly important role – not only for the end user, but also and especially in industrial manufacturing. That is why we will make extensive use of the AIM.Lab infrastructure for teaching and development in the area of industrial data analytics. There will be courses offered on bachelor’s and master’s degree programmes, and from 2022, we also plan on teaching a new doctoral programme, focusing on data analytics. For our students, the insights into practice form the indispensable basis for being able to conduct targeted research.”
The AIM.Lab initiative is unique in the automotive industry, but it is not the first collaborative venture between ŠKODA AUTO and VŠB-TUO. The project was developed following several years of successful cooperation between ŠKODA AUTO’s Digitalisation and Industry 4.0 department and the Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science VŠB-TUO as part of the ŠKODA AUTO Talent Programme for PhD students. Thanks to their knowledge of the production environment, students are now well prepared to solve problems in the context of industrial practice, as evidenced by the first successful joint projects. The car manufacturer and the university are preparing further collaborative work at the AIM.Lab that will greatly enhance practice-oriented teaching and development. The plan also includes networking with other industrial partners and cooperation with institutions such as the IT initiative Czechitas, which promotes women’s education in IT.
ŠKODA AUTO has also collaborated with the faculty in the past. For example, the company and the university have been collaborating on new technologies in the area of assistance systems since autumn 2019. Within the framework of the National Centre of Competence – Cybernetics and Artificial Intelligence project (Technology Agency of the Czech Republic), they are developing a new assistance system ‘Follow the Vehicle’. The aim is to drive in convoys according to the principle of ‘two vehicles, one driver’. The vehicle in front – driven by a human – sets the route, speed, lane and other parameters. Data on steering wheel movements, acceleration and deceleration are transmitted wirelessly to the autonomously controlled vehicle behind, which follows at a distance of up to ten metres.