Bosch teams up with Microsoft to explore new frontiers with generative AI for safer roads

It’s a scenario that no driver ever wants to see: a ball rolling out into the road. The chances are it will be followed immediately by a child in hot pursuit, oblivious to any traffic.

But while human drivers can assess this situation using their contextual knowledge, today’s assisted and automated driving systems still have to learn how to do it. Bosch is pursuing the use of
generative AI in terms to further improve automated driving functions.

As part of this, Bosch and Microsoft are exploring opportunities to collaborate and leverage
the power of generative AI. “Bosch is working on bringing a new dimension of AI
applications into the vehicle,” said Dr. Stefan Hartung, chairman of the Bosch
board of management, at this year’s Bosch Connected World (BCW) AIoT
industry conference in Berlin. The expectation is that generative AI will enable
vehicles to assess situations and react accordingly, and in this way keep road
users even safer. Greater safety on the roads is also the wish of 60 percent of
respondents to this year’s Bosch Tech Compass, a worldwide representative
Bosch survey on the subjects of technology and AI.

The two companies anticipate that a collaboration would take the performance of
automated driving functions to the next level. They would like to see generative
AI help enhance convenience in the vehicle and to provide greater safety for all
road users. To achieve this, Bosch’s comprehensive understanding of vehicles
and automotive-specific AI expertise will be invaluable, as well as their access to
vehicle sensor data to feed the generative AI. “In our unwavering commitment to
safer roads, Microsoft is eager to explore collaboration opportunities with Bosch
to pioneer the realm of generative AI,” said Uli Homann, Microsoft CVP and
Distinguished Architect.

Even today, when it comes to training systems for automated driving, AI quickly
comes up against its limits. Today’s driver assistance systems can detect people,
animals, objects, and vehicles, but in the near future generative AI could help
determine whether a situation could potentially lead to an accident. Generative
AI utilizes vast amounts of data to train systems for automated driving, enabling
them to draw improved conclusions from this data. For example, it could deduce
whether an object on the road ahead is a plastic bag or a damaged vehicle part.

This information can be used either to communicate directly with the driver –
such as by displaying a warning – or to initiate appropriate driving maneuvers,
such as braking while switching on the hazard warning lights.
Bosch and Microsoft have already partnered to develop a universal software
platform for seamlessly connecting cars and the cloud, and are looking forward
to working together to identify new opportunities to bring cutting-edge AI technology
to their customers and the autonomous vehicle industry.

“Generative AI is a boost to innovation. It can transform industry in much the
same way as the invention of the computer,” says Tanja Rueckert, member of
the Bosch board of management and chief digital officer.

The new 2024 Bosch Tech Compass survey shows this as well: 64 percent of respondents believe that AI is the technology with the greatest importance for the future. In comparison, only
41 percent of respondents were of the same opinion just one year ago.
From manufacturing to everyday office work, generative AI is already being used
in many areas at Bosch. In addition to Microsoft, the company is working with
several partners, including AWS, Google, and Aleph Alpha.

The Bosch Group’s venture capital unit, Bosch Ventures, invested in the AI company Aleph Alpha
last year. Bosch also announced it would collaborate with the startup on finding
new use cases both for Bosch associates and customers.

“Bosch and Aleph Alpha want to learn from each other, benefit from each other’s know-how, and
work together on cross-domain use cases,” Rueckert says. This partnership is
now bearing its first fruits in North America: in collaboration with Aleph Alpha,
Bosch is debuting AI-based speech recognition on behalf of a premium car
manufacturer. In this solution, a chatbot understands and answers breakdown
service calls with the help of natural language processing, which also recognizes
dialects, accents, and moods. The call is taken directly, reducing the driver’s
waiting time to a minimum. As many as 40 percent of calls can be processed
and resolved automatically; for more complex queries, the bot transmits all
relevant information to a service center agent who takes over the case

AI experts at Bosch are currently working on well over 120 specific applications
that these new AI models open up for the company’s associates and customers.
Such applications include the generation of software program code or powerful
chatbots and voicebots to support technicians or interact with consumers.
Another is AskBosch, the in-house AI-assisted search engine launched at the
end of 2023. It offers faster natural-language access to a wide variety of data
sources – sources scattered over the intranet, say. In addition to externally
available data, AskBosch also includes internal data sources, so Bosch
associates can research information specific to the company.

Generative AI also ensures greater speed in manufacturing: in initial projects in two Bosch plants in
Germany, generative AI creates synthetic images in order to develop and scale
AI solutions for optical inspection and optimize existing AI models. Bosch
expects that this will reduce the time needed for planning, launching, and
ramping up AI applications from the current six-to-twelve months to just a few
weeks. Following successful piloting, this service for generating synthetic data is
to be offered to all Bosch locations.

As AI is used in more and more areas of life, professional development is
becoming increasingly important: 58 percent of respondents to the Bosch Tech
Compass are convinced of this. This opinion is particularly prevalent in USA at
63 percent (Germany: 54 percent, China: 52 percent). Here, too, Bosch is setting
the pace in the use of artificial intelligence and is getting its associates on board.
In 2019, Bosch launched a training program, initially aimed at bringing 30,000
associates up to speed on the subject of AI. Up to now, some 28,000 associates
have taken part in the program. Like the Bosch AI code of ethics, which sets
ethical guidelines for dealing with artificial intelligence, this program has been
supplemented with content about generative AI.


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