After the hype on artificial intelligence (AI) in recent years, the question is what has happened since then – especially in the working field of engineers. For this purpose, a survey was taken among VDI members in March 2022. This delivers some surprising results.
AI enhances technical systems with the ability to process tasks independently and efficiently. Since 2018 and 2019, it has experienced a real hype. But what has happened since then and have AI methods found their way into everyday engineering?
To find out, the VDI launched a survey among its members in March 2022. The results were compared with a survey from 2018 and recorded in the status report »Artificial intelligence in everyday engineering – expectations and reality«.
With the survey, the VDI wanted to know the extent to which artificial intelligence methods are now used in the everyday working environment of engineers. Dieter Westerkamp, VDI Division Manager Technology and Society, summarizes the results: »The forecasts from the last survey in 2018 are not coming true. The expectations expressed at the time with regard to the use of AI methods are clearly not being achieved.«
According to the VDI members, the greatest use of AI methods is in data analysis. This is followed by use in predictive maintenance, quality management and assistance systems. When asked in which areas the greatest potential of AI is seen outside of industrial production, automated driving is named most frequently, as it was in 2018.
The majority of respondents state that their own company does not yet offer any AI-based products or services. SMEs lag behind large companies. The expressed expectations from 2018 with regard to the use of AI methods are not achieved compared to the new survey. One possible reason may be the Corona pandemic, which brought new and different challenges, especially in 2020 and 2021. Digitization was generally pushed by the pandemic and, accordingly, could also have meant a boost for AI applications in everyday engineering. The assessment of VDI members is very pessimistic with regard to a leading role for Germany in the field of AI. For example, around 76 % of respondents said that Germany does not have a leading role, while around 24 % said that Germany has at least a leading role in some areas.
On the other hand, the proportion of those who already acquire AI knowledge during their studies is increasing. In the view of the respondents, engineering and computer science can only solve the upcoming challenges in the application of AI together. They see themselves in an important role in the use of AI, as they are generally responsible for connecting technical systems to the real process. However, the importance of AI in the everyday life of engineers is low as of today.