When machines become “intelligent”

Professor Christoph Stiller, Responsible of Research Area “Optical Systems” Group, Institute of Measurement & Control Systems, KIT

Professor Christoph Stiller, Responsible for Research Area “Optical Systems” Group, Institute of Measurement & Control Systems at KIT is joining the inspirational speaker line-up at AutoSens Brussels this September. We caught up with him recently to uncover a bit more about the personality behind the expertise and to delve into some of his current thinking on our industry’s most pressing topics.

You have a strong background in electrical engineering, what advice would you give to someone looking to get into this field of engineering today?

I have studied Electrical Engineering and today I am member of the faculty of Mechanical Engineering and of the faculty of Computer Science. My advice to young professionals is to think interdisciplinary, because machines are never purely electrical, mechanical, or computers. The most interesting projects in my opinion is when machines become “intelligent” and we will see many machines that perform actions that some years ago we thought only humans could perform. It helps to be active on a community level, for me the IEEE became a scientific networking community.

You worked at Robert Bosch GmbH, Germany prior to joining the KIT, could you share more about what your role was there?

I started as a young project engineer in advanced engineering of image understanding systems and when I left I was responsible for vehicular vision with people in different countries and on different continents. Again, interdisciplinary thinking was extremely important and challenging in order to extend the frontiers of automated driving.

You are quite involved with IEEE Transportation/Intelligent Vehicles, what have you noticed as the main challenges that keep arising in discussions/articles in this area?

The main challenges in Intelligent Vehicles is their provable safety. We need to advance rules that define a sufficient safety level needed and have them accepted by society. If we wait with the introduction of automated vehicles until they are absolutely safe, we will wait forever. However, why should we not introduce automation if it safes say 90% of the fatal accidents that we have today? I believe that the IEEE as a non-profit organization of international scientists is the right forum to advance technology and the societal discussion about it.

Your automated driving team AnnieWAY has been finalist in the Darpa Urban Challenge 2007, first and second winner of the Grand Cooperative Driving Challenge in 2011 and 2016, respectively, why do you think the team has had such success?

Short answer: Dedicated young PhD students push our research.

In your keynote presentation at AutoSens, you will address, among others, the question, “Maps – a blessing or a curse?” and without giving too much away, why have you posed such a question?

Maps have enabled automated driving in the sense that prior to using map information automated driving was possible only for some 95% of the driving. However, how much trust can we place in maps?

How do you keep busy outside of work?

I have a family with three kids who are now already studying at different Universities themselves and I like meeting with them. This year I enjoyed preparing for and running a half marathon in Vienna where my youngest daughter lived.

What are you looking forward to about joining us at AutoSens this September?

AutoSens approaches vehicle automation in an interdisciplinary thinking. I am looking forward to fruitful discussions in this field.

Come and hear Professor Christoph Stiller at AutoSens, discussing “Solutions and Open Challenges in Vehicular Perception.” Book your ticket to attend and hear him >>