DFKI research covers a range of new technologies (Photo: DFKI)

Volkswagen, acknowledging the growing automotive importance of machine learning, has acquired a stake in the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI).

“Artificial intelligence (AI) is a key technology for autonomous driving and therefore an investment in our future,” VW Group CEO Matthias Mueller  said in a press statement. "We want to forge ahead with AI research in the automotive industry and beyond."

VW also hopes its involvement in DFKI, one of the world's biggest AI research institutes, will help it with the  digitalization of plants and a range of corporate processes.

Many carmakers have been expanding their AI activities as an industry-wide effort to build autonomous vehicles is stretching current computer capacity to its limits.

Toyota late last year announced a 1 billion-dlr five-year research project in artificial intelligence.

DFKI's focus is on artificial intelligence, but the institute also specializes in robotics, Industry 4.0 and driver assistance systems.

VW and DFKI have already started a research project to develop a software framework for better cooperation between humans and robots.  Key features include the measurement of ambient conditions through the use of sensors, collision detection and avoidance and intuitive gesture control.