TNO has concentrated its AI efforts in an integrated program, called Appl.AI. TNO's ambition is to build on an already strong position and accelerate AI innovation through focus on integrational aspects of AI for complex task where safety and strict governance are at stake. Within Appl.AI a research-oriented focus on generic technology and methodology development is combined with demonstration and development within use cases of our customers. To be able to apply AI in a responsible, explainable and controllable way a multidisciplinary approach is needed.In addition to domain expertise, also expertise from the fields of systems engineering, human factors, law, ethics and behavioral science is key to this approach. Our research focuses on overcoming the significant shortcomings of current AI with respect to general purpose tasks, safe operations in an unpredictable world, interaction with humans and adherence to laws, regulations and ethics. TNO has experts on generic AI topics such as advanced machine learning algorithms and symbolic reasoning and TNO has knowledge on expert-driven models in specific domains such as defense, mobility, health. It is our ambition to extend our position on the system integration and architecture level for AI applications.

The mid-term objective for 2023 of Appl.AI is to develop capabilities that enable AI to be improved along the following four dimensions:

  • Environment: from operations in a controlled environment to operations in an open world,
  • Purpose: from specialized tasks to more general-purpose problem solving,
  • Collaboration: from acting as a stand-alone tool to human-AI teaming,
  • Governance: from applications where the governance of the AI can be permissive to applications where governance needs to be strict with respect to compliance with laws, ethical norms, and societal values.

More information on the goals can be found in the Appl.AI research strategy: APPL.AI: Research Strategy Trustworthy Adaptive AI

The program is structured around two integration flagships, with generic research in the flagship projects itself and associated application centered research in use case projects. Commitment of external stakeholders in the uses cases shows their needs and is expressed through a multiplier on the research funds. In 2020 and 2021 several additional use cases are funded by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate through the NL AIC.