The development of AI algorithms and software that allow autonomous systems to be deployed safely and effectively in unpredictable and dynamic environments.

When self-driving cars were first introduced, we were all very impressed by what was possible at the time. And rightly so! Since then, the AI technology for autonomous systems has made huge progress. But a vehicle that is able to find its way and transport its passengers safely from A to B, without any human input? We’ve not yet reached that stage.

At an ethical level, too, AI still has a long way to go. When a person is behind the wheel in a dangerous situation, they have to make moral decisions. The big question is how to program moral decisions into the software of a self-driving car. And is that actually a desirable thing to do? This is the kind of ethical dilemma facing developers. Not just in the case of self-driving cars, but also with other AI-controlled systems, such as robots.

At TNO, we are currently developing hybrid AI algorithms (a combination of machine learning, symbolic reasoning, and domain knowledge) and software with which autonomous systems are able to operate safely and effectively in an open environment, without any direct human intervention.

More info about this research theme can be on the Autonomous systems in the real world website.


  • Judith Dijk, Senior Research Scientist, e-mail: