Climate Change and Coronavirus: Bosch Says They Want to Help
By Laura Kobylecky
In this “unprecedented” time, as corporations are so fond of saying, some companies have shifted the focus of their presentations to better suit the times at CES 2021, an online-only conference. Dr. Michael Bolle, a member of the board of management of Robert Bosch GmbH and Mike Mansuetti, president of Bosch in North America are here on behalf of Bosch with some timely missives from the company about their efforts to help the environment (using AI and other solutions), fight Covid and train workers.
Bosch is a “a leading global supplier of technology and services,” but today their focus is on sustainability, as well as technology that applies to the particular difficulties of the here and now.
Bolle introduces himself and takes a moment to “thank technology for this remarkable press conference.” He remarks aptly, that “a few decades ago, a pandemic such as the one we’re experiencing today, would have meant the total breakdown of our social and working lives.” However, thanks to technology, “hundreds of millions of people have seen little to no drop in their productivity at work.” This connectivity has allowed “us” to overcome some of “the biggest challenges of our time”
However, in Bolle’s words “focusing on the global existential threat of the pandemic” might have reminded us that we should also be focusing on the “greater existential threat facing us all… climate change.” In part, the comparison may be drawn because both of these threats require “huge effort and collaboration” and both situations involve the reality that “doing nothing will cost even more.”
As part of their solution, Bosch became “carbon neutral by the end of 2020” and is the “first global industrial enterprise to have achieved this,” according to internal calculations. They have done this by “increasing energy efficiency” and “expanding the production of renewable energy.”
From a product perspective, Bosch has focused on heating systems that “can help individual households save 2.5 tons of CO2 annually in Germany alone.” Their dishwasherswith Zeolith technology “offer an energy savings of up to 20 percent” and their washing machines are also designed to save water. Their range of power tools are designed to last longer, reducing waste thanks to their “intelligent power management.”
AIoT: Artificial Intelligence and the Internet of Things
This is where AIoT and data become crucial to sustainability.
Their “cloud-based” Energy Platform helps manufacturing operations run at peak efficiency. It “uses intelligent algorithms to help predict energy consumption, energy consumption, avoid peak loads, and correct deviations in typical patterns of consumption.” Connected devices collect data and AI uses that data to make it all work out to save time and resources.Bosch “camera ecosystem helps stores use their cameras to enforce local Covid regulations #CES2021 Click To Tweet
Bosch contrasts their approach with “many other tech companies” where AI is “primarily about creating models of human behavior, focusing especially on purchasing preferences.” At Bosch, they focus on objects’ interactions with their environment. They “explain the physical world to machines” in order to optimize their work and “enable intelligent behavior” for things like “identifying faulty parts in production” or for an “an automotive emergency breaking assistant.”
But for all of this intelligent AI, Bosch wants to assure you that they have “created an AI code of ethics for our development and application of AI.” They are referred to as “guidelines” (1) and are about as binding as Google’s former “don’t be evil” slogan. Bosch emphasizes the need to “build trust in the technology.”
For a more immediate need, Bosch has developed a rapid test for corona virus. The PCR test launched in March of 2020. The “time-to-result” period has been shaved down to under 30 minutes, an improvement from their initial two and a half hours, and cartridges accommodate “up to five samples simultaneously.” This allows for testing to be done faster. With amped up production, Bosch aims to increase “our testing capacity to three million this year.” Good news for the production of a timely test in a testing time.
The testing also harnesses AIoT, because “devices deployed in the field are also automatically updated with the optimized procedure.” As long as there is an internet connection present, the devices get updates because “this connected device gets software updates via our Vivasuite cloud platform.” Optimized procedures yield faster results. Another helpful feature.
Another Covid-oriented solution is the Bosch “camera ecosystem,” which helps stores use their cameras to enforce local Covid regulations (by equipping the cameras with “custom applications”). Bosch also created an “air-quality sensor” that includes, among other features, a measurement of “the amount of exhaled air and aerosols present in a room.” This could be highly relevant for reducing airborne transmission.
Another side effect of the pandemic is the economic fallout of people with jobs sectors decimated by the current situation. Bosch has plans to help with that too, in their own way. Mike Mansuetti explains the Bosch’s “IoT apprenticeship” program explaining how they “recruit talented non-engineers with transferable skills. Then, we train them in system architecture, design, and coding.” Their “first cohort of IoT apprentices includes a former chef, a shop technician, and a personal banking manager,” so they truly do come from a variety of fields.
By recruiting such an assortment of people they can broaden their talent pool. This fulfills what they call their “build strategy,” a method by which they develop talent in order to meet their “software engineering needs in a very challenging recruiting environment.”
Bolle returns to explain how Bosch overall goal of ensuring “competitiveness in a world where climate change and a global pandemic are accelerating transformation and change.” For Bosch, there is no conflict between profitability and sustainability. They are in fact, “two sides of the same coin.”A global pandemic are accelerating transformation and change #CES2021 Click To Tweet
The pursuit of sustainability leads to energy efficiency and this creates “cost efficiency,” all while providing some protection from the instability of energy prices. It also gives them access to the popular “eco-friendly products” market. They optimistically view the challenges of “climate-friendly” design as a way to “think outside the box.” Bosch has even found “new business opportunities” by offering “carbon-neutrality consulting and services” to other companies. It’s a green on green world for Bosch.
Bosch certainly tailored some of their presentation to suit the unique problems facing the world during CES 2021. They offer some interesting perspectives and solutions. For now, it seems that profit and sustainability are balanced in the eyes of Bosch. It will be interesting to see how these ideas play out in the months and years to come.
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Laura Kobylecky is a contributing writer to Tech Trends. She is particularly interested in new and emerging technology and culture. Connect with her on LinkedIn