Fraunhofer Strategic Research Field

Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Symbol Künstliche Intelligenz

Artificial intelligence (AI), cognitive systems and machine learning have a key role to play in the transformation of our society and economy. The Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft is developing key AI technologies and applications at a number of its institutes. Our research contributes significantly to the development of safe, trusted and resource-efficient AI technologies that closely match the real-world needs of companies and society as a whole.

Artificial intelligence systems are not going to take over the world – but they will be taking on more and more tasks in factories, offices and our day-to-day lives. From controlling autonomous vehicles and making medical diagnoses to protecting us against cyber attacks, AI will radically transform and benefit a whole host of industries. This makes artificial intelligence and related technologies one of the most important digital frontline themes – something that will play a key role in the ongoing transformation of our society and economy.

Countries all over the world have spotted AI's potential as a strategic resource and are racing to develop the technologies that will give them a strategic and economic edge. Those that fail to develop their own expertise in this area will be dependent on providers who may have lower standards of data protection, security and algorithmic transparency. Such a situation could endanger the technological sovereignty and competitiveness of both Germany and Europe.

Numerous institutes of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft are already developing AI technologies for applications across all sectors and industries – from automotive solutions and medical technology to non-destructive testing. The guiding force behind all these efforts is to create secure, trusted and energy-efficient systems, combining expert knowledge with data-driven machine learning to make AI algorithms more transparent.


Fraunhofer Big Data and Artificial Intelligence Alliance BIG DATA AI

Big data is more than a hype. Big Data is essentially defined as very large amounts of diverse data being generated at exceptionally high speed as is increasingly happening anywhere and everywhere throughout the world – in companies, in urban infrastructures and in private households. Big data is a key technology and as such is of great importance to the economy, science and society as a whole.


Fraunhofer Cluster of Excellence Cognitive Internet Technologies

The Cluster explores cognitive technologies for the industrial Internet. Researchers from various disciplines develop key technologies along the value-added chain − from sensors to intelligent learning processes in data processing to the cloud. The Fraunhofer Cluster of Excellence Cognitive Internet Technologies enables companies to future-proof their business by creating market access by means of cognitive solutions and products.


Karlsruhe Competence Center for AI Engineering CC-KING

Competence Center Now Offers Support for Companies  – making AI manageable by Engineers.


ADA Lovelace Center for Analytics, Data and Applications

The ADA Lovelace Center sees itself as a multiplier to build and strengthen AI competence in companies. The Fraunhofer Institutes IIS, IKS and IISB, together with cooperation partners such as the Friedrich Alexander University of Erlangen-Nuremberg and the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, are applying AI research.


Impact on society as a whole

Affordable healthcare

The results of Fraunhofer research help keep people healthy and make healthcare affordable across all areas of medical, environmental and nutritional research. Smart assistance systems boost the effectiveness of preventive healthcare, diagnostic medicine, treatment and care. Other key factors in public health include nutrition, food technology and effective environmental protection, all of which feature prominently in Fraunhofer research.

Germany fosters a broad and diverse array of medical technology research with a clear emphasis on interdisciplinary collaboration. Examples include testing new drugs in clinical trials, searching for specific biomarkers, developing prostheses that provide sensory feedback and developing concepts for secure data management. Health and care is one of the key areas of innovation within the German federal government’s High-Tech Strategy. The idea is to use cutting-edge technologies to develop effective methods and products to improve diagnostics, preventive care, treatment, patient care and rehabilitation.

Most institutes of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft are involved in healthcare research. Improving medical capabilities and optimizing processes are key priorities, but so too is the goal of making healthcare affordable for everyone.

The Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft is superbly placed to tackle this complex task thanks to its interdisciplinary networks and its ability to pool the required expertise. Overcoming this challenge leads to new technological developments in healthcare research.

Security and resilient society

There is a growing awareness of the importance of security and a resilient society. The Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft develops technologies, products and services that aim to identify potential dangers early on in order to take appropriate measures, minimize potential damage and reduce risks across the board.

The need for security has always been a driving force in our society – and constantly evolving threats make this topic just as relevant as ever. Civil security research is a well-established interdisciplinary research discipline in Germany. Firmly embedded in the German federal government’s High-Tech Strategy from the outset, it involves numerous organizations from the realms of science, research, industry, government and security. These key players work together on collaborative projects to develop concrete solutions for tackling complex challenges.  Recent changes in security policy, society and technology have significantly increased the number of challenges we face. 

The concept of resilience marks a logical progression in security research by tying together security and sustainability. The idea of resilience is to view all socially relevant systems as a whole and endeavor to make them more resilient, robust, adaptable and learning-ready. This goal of a secure and resilient society is one of the driving forces behind Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft research.

Digitalized value chain

Digital transformation affects almost every area of our lives and opens up new opportunities for our society and economy. The impact of new developments and solutions extends far beyond individual applications and provides a stimulus to entire sectors of industry. The Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft drives forward targeted aspects of digital transformation in order to accelerate and enhance digital value creation across all areas.

Digital transformation poses both major challenges and tremendous opportunities. Entirely new value chains are emerging on the back of increasing connectivity and automation, the pooling of data from diverse sources and the creation of digital interfaces to customers. Digitalization is radically changing our economy by transforming the nature of production, retail, services, logistics and transport. For many years, Fraunhofer has been one of the key drivers behind connected manufacturing and digital innovation in Germany. Its contributions help companies harness the full potential of digitalization.

Fraunhofer researchers tackle key aspects of IT security, data sovereignty, Industrial Data Space, artificial intelligence, next-generation computing and IT infrastructures. Their expertise plays a key role in driving digital transformation and boosting the competitiveness of German and European companies. All in all, our research and development work helps our economy and society to meet the challenges of digitalization and harness the opportunities that digital transformation offers.

Fully circular economy

Several million tonnes of waste are produced each year, ranging from construction waste, scrap wood and municipal solid waste incineration bottom ash to carbon fiber-reinforced composites and electronic waste. With resources becoming scarcer and sustainability moving up the political agenda, the time has come to move away from our current mostly linear approach to resource use and switch to a circular economy.

A circular economy is the opposite of the "take, make, dispose" model of production that still prevails today. In our current linear or “throw-away” economy, most of the natural resources we use are sent to landfill or incinerated once a product reaches the end of its useful life. Only a small proportion is re-used or recycled. In contrast, a circular economy promotes a renewable or regenerative system of industrial production. Its goal is to minimize the use of resources and the generation of waste and emissions and to make a more efficient use of energy. This can be achieved by slowing, narrowing and closing energy and material loops. Key tools for this purpose include long-lasting design, maintenance, refurbishing, repair, reuse, remanufacturing and recycling. 

The Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft actively seeks to help shape the transition from today’s primarily linear economy to a circular economy. It does this by conducting research into the necessary systemic, technical and social innovations and the new value creation networks these innovations entail.