“When I met Prof. Thomas Brandmeier and Georg Overbeck from Technische Hochschule Ingolstadt (THI) on their tour to my university in Brazil in 2010, I never imagined that it would change my life forever,” recollects Professor Alessandro Zimmer. Though he didn’t know it at the time, their meeting was the first step towards an international, interdisciplinary collaboration with the Latin American continent. A collaboration that would not only spur the development of CARISSMA—THI’s Center of Automotive Research on Integrated Safety Systems and Measurement Area—but also the creation of a Bavarian Center for Applied Research and Technology in 2020.
CARISSMA is Germany’s leading scientific center for vehicle safety today. It was established in 2016 with the aim of conducting applied research in order to enhance traffic safety in Germany and abroad. At CARISSMA, the scientists involved are tackling the social challenge of “Vision Zero”—the ultimate goal of zero traffic deaths. Zimmer, who specializes in computer vision systems such as lidar, radar, and camera-based systems, is now a guest professor there.
Two years after their initial meeting, Brandmeier and Overbeck invited Zimmer to visit Bavaria to learn more about THI. Their shared interest in sensor technologies for automotive safety led to a small student-focused collaboration between THI and Zimmer’s home university, the Federal University of Parana (UFPR) in Curitiba. Within the framework of this collaboration, a group of German and Brazilian master’s students (from disciplines as diverse as engineering and psychology) developed a monitoring system to detect a driver’s level of alertness.
The outcome was better than they could have imagined: Euro NCAP (the European body responsible for vehicle safety ratings and testing) determined that driving monitoring systems should be a primary safety feature of all new on-road vehicles from 2020. This decision gave the cooperation the momentum it needed to expand.
In 2013, drawing on CARISSMA’s impetus and with support from BMBF/DAAD, THI established AWARE. This applied sciences research network brought together academics, research institutes, industry, and governmental and intermediary institutions from Bavaria, Paraná, and Santa Catarina (also in Brazil). In Bavaria, automotive giants Audi and Airbus joined the effort. The project established a thematic network in the field of automotive engineering with a strong focus on road safety, which was of primary interest to the Brazilian partners due to their high number of road fatalities.
AWARE continues to develop today. Since its inception, the collaboration has facilitated more than 450 exchanges between students, professors, researchers, and administrative staff from Bavaria and Brazil. “AWARE’s summer schools are a great opportunity for students to update their knowledge, increase their networks, and to interact with a different culture. They learn how to work in a team and to tackle new challenges. Professors also have an excellent opportunity to network, sometimes traveling or simply interfacing with students with a different mindset. It is a win-win situation for everybody involved,” says Zimmer. AWARE has even helped to create a small Brazilian community within THI.
Zimmer is at the center of this growing community. In 2017, he moved with his family to Ingolstadt. Since then, he has worked as guest professor at CARISSMA, where he has assembled a team of 10 researchers, seven of whom are Brazilian. The group includes master’s and doctoral students and a postdoctoral researcher, and there were also three visiting professors from Brazil.
Together, Zimmer and his group develop smart solutions for mobility safety using artificial intelligence and machine learning techniques, as well as sensors like cameras, radar, and lidar. An important focus of their work is the application of technologies such as transfer learning to Deep Learning Neural Networks. For instance, they use smart sensing technology for environment perception to promote the safety of drivers, passengers, and other road users. This is especially important in the field of intelligent mobility, where autonomous driving vehicles are becoming increasingly prominent.
AWARE’s summer schools are a great opportunity for students to update their knowledge, increase their networks, and to interact with a different culture.Alessandro Zimmer, Guest professor, CARISSMA
The research and collaborative activities between THI and UFPR have spurred CARISSMA’s development from the start. Over the years, the center has been working alongside AWARE with the goal of advancing cooperation and thus solving global problems together. With colleagues and THI partner institutions across the Atlantic, Zimmer is currently driving further internationalization efforts to promote AWARE.
In 2020, they plan to establish a new Bavarian Center for Applied Research and Technology with Latin America, with even more partners from both sides of the Atlantic. The new center will act as a nucleus for collaboration in a variety of technical and nontechnical fields such as vehicle safety, robotics, international retail management, and even university governance, all of which are relevant to application and society. Another exciting next step for THI is a collaboration with the University of Sao Paulo, which will help to set up an artificial intelligence (AI) joint research hub between Bavaria and São Paulo.
About the Network
The Artificial Intelligence Network Ingolstadt, founded at THI in April 2019, coordinates, promotes, and carries out applied and basic research in the fields of artificial intelligence and machine learning.
AININ has joined forces with seven partners from science, industry, and society to explore pioneering topics in these fields.
- Expanding the team to 30 researchers by the end of 2022
- Networking of AI activities between partners
- Carrying out applied research with results in the commercial field of partners
- Promoting start-ups in AI in conjunction with the digital incubator
- Vehicle Safety
- Vehicle Function Monitorin
Who Do I Contact?
To find out more about AININ, visit our website or get in touch with one of the scientific directors:
Prof. Dr.-Ing. Michael Botsch: firstname.lastname@example.org
Prof. Dr. Christian Stummyer: email@example.com