Bits & Pretzels 2019: off to the future with AI and autonomous driving

From a data set for autonomous driving to mobility budgets for employees: at the founders conference Bits & Pretzels, innovators from Audi show how they want to design the future. We present two of the ideas here.

10/02/2019 Reading Time: 3 min

Audi Mobility Stage at Bits & Pretzels 2019

Enjoyable networking for creative minds — that’s Bits & Pretzels’ greatest strength. At Europe’s largest startup festival, more than 5,000 founders, investors, and digital experts met with each other in Munich. Because, in the era of digital transformation, one thing is truer than ever: success comes from opening up and working together. And that is also the approach that Audi is taking.

A cooperative approach: developing autonomous driving with published data sets

Take autonomous driving, for example — a topic of great technical complexity. The Audi Electronics Venture (AEV) has developed a data set that should serve research institutions and startups in the area of artificial intelligence as a basis for their work and assist them in starting new development projects. And it had been made available not only for scientific, but also — and this is uncommon — for commercial use.

AI expert Mentar Mahmudi

Cooperative approach: Metar Mahmudi, AI expert at Audi Electronics Venture, explains at Bits & Pretzels 2019 why the company published a data set for autonomous driving.

40,000 images for object recognition

The data set from Audi’s subsidiary contains around 40,000 labeled pictures that the algorithms need in order to learn. It works like this: a test car with a special set of sensors takes the pictures. Each image is marked to indicate, for example, what shape of traffic light it depicts. The data set can then be used to teach an AI system how to distinguish traffic lights from other objects. If the sensor sees the same type of shape on its next test drive, the trained algorithm is then able to identify it as a traffic light.

By releasing the data set, Audi Electronics Venture is following a cooperative approach. “We want to make it easier for researchers and developers to take their first steps into developing AI,” says AI expert Mentar Mahmudi of the Audi Electronics Venture at Bits & Pretzels. “That will drive research forward.”

Mobility of the future: getting to work with apps and algorithms

Speed and flexibility — those are attributes that MOBIKO puts at the forefront. The idea behind it was developed at Audi Business Innovation (ABI), an Audi subsidiary for digital business models. ABI presented the concept of MOBIKO at Bits & Pretzels 2019: It is about a solution that makes it easier for employers to offer their employees a monthly, virtual mobility budget and immediately bill it. Employees can submit their transportation tickets and bills from different forms of public transportation via the MOBIKO app – from their commute as well as from their personal travel. The expenditures are refunded with the payment of salary. The specially developed AI makes sure that everything is tax-compliant and economic. This saves the employer time and effort.

Bettina Bernhardt

New mobility service: Bettina Bernhardt, Managing Director of Audi Business Innovation explains how the mobility budget app MOBIKO works at Bits & Pretzels 2019.

“The solution is based on a platform concept and is supposed to offer employees a maximum of freedom in mobility. It allows an unlimited access to all forms of transportation, both inside and outside of the mobility ecosystem of Audi. That’s why we made the decision to found a spin-off company,” says Bettina Bernhardt, Managing Director of ABI. MOBIKO has been independent since 2018. Now, Audi has made a financial investment in the company and will have the option to turn the investment into shares in the future. “MOBIKO is the first to offer this type of solution on the market,” says Bernhardt. “As a first-mover, we guarantee ourselves a competitive advantage.”

Courageous thinking, consistent action, and partnerships at eye-level: that’s what makes the founders at Bits & Pretzels stand out. A good place for Audi to share innovations, forge new alliances, and take the next steps towards mobility that is smart, sustainable, and networked.

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