Automating design and engineering through Artificial Intelligence

“While it’s not yet possible to get Alexa or any other AI-powered digital assistant to pump out the perfect drone design and queue it up for cost-efficient manufacturing, that’s ultimately the direction as the technologies mature over the next decade,” said Stefan Jockusch, vice president of strategy for Siemens Digital Industries Software.

In fact, companies like Siemens have already begun to make this vision a reality. Using AI-infused generative design features software engineers can now specify critical design and cost parameters such as weight or performance aspects.

The software then automatically explores the design space, quickly coming up with a range of options that a typical human couldn’t visualise on their own. “By automating design and engineering tasks, Siemens customers, among others, are already seeing notable results, including greatly reduced manufacturing costs and improved product performance,” Jockusch continued.

A need to shift gears quickly

The volatility in the economy, exacerbated by COVID-19 and the subsequent supply chain breakdowns, require companies to be able to shift gears quickly. “What we have seen over the last year or so is that the winners are usually the ones that are very fast at adapting to new situations, including quickly delivering products that are urgently needed and adjusting their supply chains,” Jockusch explained.

“Looking forward, we see AI and data coming together to generate self-organizing and automated processes for creating a product like a drone. Consumers could input specific requirements — for example, an autonomous drone that can carry a 1.2 lb. camera and fly for three hours, but not cost more than $250 — and AI-driven software will go off and analyze a knowledgebase of designs until it finds something that fits the bill,” he continued.

An intelligent marketplace

“From there, the software would automatically connect to an intelligent marketplace where it would start sourcing components, identify suitable manufacturers, and handle the bidding and contract process.

“The basic technologies for this vision might be 10 or more years into the future, but the technologies are already helping to facilitate increasingly complex design jobs in many of our applications in a much faster and more reliable way,” Jockusch concluded.

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