Students from TUM and LMU win Digital Future Challenge

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The finalists of the Digital Future Challenge with patron Volker Wissing
The finalists of the Digital Future Challenge with patron Volker Wissing

Two projects from TUM seminar on responsible AI top the list

With "EduPin" and "AI Allies", two projects from the TUM seminar "Responsible AI" have taken first and second place in the Digital Future Challenge. In the university competition organized by Initiative D21 and the Deloitte Foundation, the students from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) and the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich (LMU) prevailed against more than 50 teams from all’over Germany. The Digital Future Challenge is endowed with 10,000 euros and is held under the patronage of the Federal Minister for Digital and Transport, Volker Wissing.

AI-based solutions for societal challenges

The fourth edition of the Digital Future Challenge focused on the urgent question of responsible use of AI. The participants sought innovative and practical solutions for nine different use cases from renowned project partners such as IBM, Telekom, PD, and Telefónica. The students first submitted their concepts as a pitch deck to convince the jury.

To accompany the challenge, Sarah Rachut (Managing Director of the TUM Center for Digital Public Services and research associate at the Chair of Law and Security in Digital Transformation), Helene v. Schwichow (research associate at the Assistant Professorship of Policy Analysis), and Markus Siewert (Managing Director of the TUM Think Tank) offered a seminar on responsible AI. Here, students from different disciplines prepared together for the individual stages of the challenge in terms of content and methodology. The teams benefited from the interdisciplinary orientation of their instructors and the range of guest lectures, soft skills workshops, and accompanying events such as a panel discussion.

Four teams make it to the semi-finals, three to the final

Of the eight project teams from the seminar, four made it to the semi-finals in Berlin, where they presented their concepts to the jury - and three of them advanced to the final at the Federal Ministry of Digital and Transport to compete for a place on the podium.

Here, the jury was particularly impressed by the TUM team "EduPin", which took up the challenge from PD ÜBerater der öffentlichen Hand and developed an innovative solution for child-friendly, data-based transportation planning. The students designed a digital pin to make the journey to school safer. It can detect traffic signs, playfully help children to move safely and responsibly in traffic, and warn them of dangers in several languages.

Second place went to "AI Allies" from LMU, who dealt with inclusion and accessibility in Telefónica’s customer support: their chatbot Aura Ally can be operated using various input functions and is able to communicate with people seeking advice in different languages, including sign language. In this way, it can help to strengthen equal opportunities and improve the interaction between humans and machines.

Fourth place went to TUM’s "Power Balance" team, which took on a use case from the Honda Research Institute EU. The team developed a comprehensive concept for distribution-oriented AI energy management that considers various dimensions of fairness. A points system rewards citizens for conscious energy consumption and incentivizes customers to consume electricity when it is being produced.

Success through interdisciplinary cooperation

Sixty percent Munich teams in the final of the competition - the potential of collaboration across TUM Schools and the universities in the Munich ecosystem couldn’t be more evident: In the "Responsible AI" seminar and the project teams, Bachelor’s and Master’s students from the TUM School of Computation, Information and Technology, the TUM School of Social Sciences & Technology and the TUM School of Management, as well as students from LMU’s Master’s program in Human-Computer Interaction, worked closely together to contribute their respective expertise to joint approaches to solving real-world problems. Thanks to the cooperation with the partner organizations, the participants could also exchange ideas with numerous experts. In this way, the students not only shape their own profiles and networks, but also innovations that benefit society as a whole.