At CES, chipmaker Nvidia announced it will equip Mercedes with AI technology (Photo: Nvidia)

The global market for so-called "cognitive computing" application is set to almost double in 2017, according to Germany's high-tech association, Bitkom.

The projection reflects the focus that many companies, including automakers, are putting on hardware and software that mimics the workings of the human brain. Cognitive computing, artificial intelligence and machine learning are all seen as approaches that can help digital technologies make a quantum leap in capabilities.

Bitkom said global sales of systems and applications that have the ability to learn are set to grow 92 pc to 4.3 billion euros this year. The market for cognitiive computing is set to expand further to 21.2 billion euros by 2020.

"Artificial intelligence... is the basis for digital voice assistants, text-based dialog systems such as chatbots and facial recognition in photos or videos," said Mathias Weber, who heads Bitkom's IT services division.

In the auto industry, R&D executives believe that artificial intelligence will be essential for autonomously driving cars.