After ten successful years, Fraunhofer IOSB is optimistic about the future

Karlsruhe /

Young institute, long tradition: This is the motto under which the Fraunhofer Institute for Optronics, Systems Engineering and Image Exploitation IOSB celebrates its tenth anniversary - and focuses on current and future challenges. An important topic for the future, this became clear at the anniversary event of the institute on March 6th in Karlsruhe, is "AI Engineering": The term stands for the engineering, plannable and methodical application of artificial intelligence processes. Although these are already being used in many contexts today, they usually resemble a "black box", whose mode of operation is not precisely understood and whose results are hardly predictable.


Formed in 2010 through the merger of the Fraunhofer Institute for Information and Data Processing IITB in Karlsruhe with the Ettlingen Research Institute for Optronics and Pattern Recognition (FOM) of the Research Association for Applied Natural Sciences (FGAN), the Fraunhofer IOSB is today an important research and technology partner for public authorities and companies and is significantly involved in developments in areas such as sensor data management, intelligent video evaluation, mobile robots or digitization of production / industry 4.0.

Strong growth as an indicator of success

"The merger of the two long-established institutes IITB and FOM has now clearly proven to be a success story," said Prof. Dr.-Ing. habil. Jürgen Beyerer, Director of the Fraunhofer IOSB, on the occasion of the anniversary. Without the institute having been set up to do so, it has grown strongly, from a total budget of just under 40 million euros in 2010 to around 63 million euros in 2019: "If you successfully research, develop and work on relevant topics and if you satisfy your customers and sponsors in every respect, then growth is the result.

The roots of the two institutes merged in 2010 can be traced back to the 1950s. However, they came from different traditions: While industrial contracts have always been a central pillar at Fraunhofer, FOM and its umbrella organization FGAN were entirely dedicated to defense research and were financed by the German Ministry of Defense. The merger took place in the course of the integration of FGAN into the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, which was completed in 2009. The Fraunhofer IOSB celebrated its foundation on March 17, 2010 at the Karlsruhe Trade Fair Center. The ZKM (Center for Art and Media) Karlsruhe was the venue for the anniversary celebration on March 6, 2020, during which representatives of the Federal Ministry of Research and Defense and the Ministry of Economics of Baden-Württemberg, among others, sent their congratulations.

Broad spectrum of expertise - Focus on digitization and AI

Taking the strain off people through intelligent sensor systems: This is how the vision of research at Fraunhofer IOSB can be outlined. To this end, the institute covers a broad, content-related spectrum of competencies that is unique in this combination. It ranges from the physical principles of signal generation, optical sensors and the (real-time) evaluation of sensor data to the use of the information contained therein for humans and machines. Interoperability through open standards, IT security, data protection and innovative human-machine interfaces are important aspects.

Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) methods are a central tool that is frequently used in research and development work at Fraunhofer IOSB. This was also made clear during the festive event, where experts from industry and science discussed the topic "Digitization: What remains? What will? "Today, everyone is trying to solve more or less every problem with ML methods and AI," stated Institute Director Jürgen Beyerer. "However, the results are often unpredictable.

AI Engineering: Making artificial intelligence predictable

This results in an important research focus for the Fraunhofer IOSB for the coming years: "AI Engineering" - i.e. the challenge to turn the use of AI and ML into an engineering discipline. Beyerer: "In other words, how do we arrive at a methodical process model for purely data-based procedures, as is otherwise the case in the engineering sciences? According to Beyerer, the Fraunhofer IOSB researchers are working on this in various application contexts, ranging from energy system control to mobile robots and industrial automation. This topic is also high on the agenda of the Karlsruhe research factory that Fraunhofer will operate together with the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT).

According to Beyerer, the aim is to make all these systems controllable even when using AI algorithms, to be able to understand their decisions and plan their performance in advance: "Engineers normally proceed in such a way that they can be sure at the design stage that a system will do what it is supposed to do at runtime. That's where we want to get to when using AI and ML - and that's what we're working on at full speed".

Further information on the anniversary and the history of the Fraunhofer IOSB:

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