TOTAL, a Global Energy Company, ahead in Artificial Intelligence and Robotics
Total is committed to deliver a safer, cleaner, affordable energy to answer the increasing need of energy, diversifying its portfolio towards Low Carbon Energy Mix .
Technology, and more specially Digital Technology at large, is a key differentiator to increase safety, operational efficiency and enlarge customers experience. We consider that Artificial Intelligence and Robotics are the key drivers of the digital revolution, progressively transforming deeply whole industrial sectors (4th industrial revolution).
AI is speeding up research and innovation processes, is improving safety and efficiency in manufacturing, is changing the way supply chains, marketing and services are deployed, with the development of digital platforms and the growing expectation of people to be co-designer.
This new economy is based on data collect, data analytics with more and more high speed computing, machines learning, robotics, connected sensors and powerful algorithm and “fitted on purpose” solutions.
We are entering a new era of cognition and a new data-enabled economy. In this massive transformation based on data flows and mathematics States, Companies and people benefit of new opportunities but face new challenges including cybersecurity.
TOTAL is a pioneer in putting AI historically in the core of its businesses with applications across the whole value chains:
› In geosciences, we are developing AI tools to improve the exploration efficiency and a better knowledge of reservoirs, with in-house developments as well as a pioneering partnership with Google.
› In our upstream and downstream operations, we invest in digital sensors, robots, drones and AI to improve safety, with preemptive maintenance to improve our installations availabilities, our manufacturing and processes efficiencies (we recently opened a new center of digital innovation in India with Tata Consulting Services on the concept of a 4.0 refinery).
› In the electricity, the needs for a more decentralized, decarbonized and digitalized electricity system with the integration of a growing share of renewable inter- mittent electricity, require more energy storage at various scales and internet of things with strong AI.
Total together with SunPower,Total Solar, Saft our leading battery company, Direct Energy & Lampiris, is developing specific tools and services for electricity supply, smart building & cities, with performing, competitive digital platforms for end-users to optimize energy consumption and reduce carbon footprint.
A collaboration on AI with Ecole Polytechnique has been set up to design powerful algorithms with experimentation in buildings on the Saclay campus.
› In the field of materials, we are developing new tools to couple simulation, experimental data and AI to invent new materials with specific properties and speed up their development cycle, including through biotechnologies.
Robots and drones applications are more and more displayed in our operations, monitoring environment conditions, inspecting in hazardous, constrained or extreme environments, for intervention in deep offshore.
Total is a big INDUSTRIAL data company. We have maintained over the years very large computing capacities in the research center in Pau and owned today among the world top 10 most efficient industrial supercomputer with 6,7 petaflops, and we will continue to increase that.
Maintaining strong capabilities in high speed computing in Europe is key to extract values from big data with more and more sophisticated algorithms to remain competitive at world scale.
The situation in European Union as regard AI and robotization is mixed: ahead but losing speed in robotization, partially behind USA & China in AI. We are used to say that USA and China are leading in data with their GAFA and BATS.
This is true if we consider personal data, e-commerce, e-mobility (BtoC). But Europe can react thanks to its industry base, to its huge asset in industrial data (BtoB), its regulations to stimulate business opportunities, thanks to its researchers who are the best in math, computer sciences and engineering. The EU market is very deep and attractive. The battle of AI is not lost.
There is no mystery, to develop a performing AI ecosystem, four conditions have to be met:
› excellence in education, › a strong entrepreneurship environment, › efficient and adapted financing capabilities, › and an incubating ecosystem (a Silicon Valley). Europe has undoubtedly an excellent education system on AI, better than in US and China, considering the large number of European engineers in the Silicon Valley.
The entrepreneurship culture and mindset has definitely grown up in particular in young generations in Europe. A significant number of seeds and startups in AI have been recently created and developed, in France and in UK in particular.
Challenges are on the scale up & massification, time to market and speed: grow or die. The weaknesses of Europe are more on the financing side and on the geographical spreading of the efforts.
European Union has not organized yet a massive financing ecosystem with venture capital and funds fitting with the needs & specificities of its startups in the digital world for their scale up, continuous innovation challenges, competitiveness in a very fast changing landscape.
In 2016, Europe has invested in AI four time less than the Bay Area in San Francisco. Clearly our most innovative startups in AI could be the target of takeover by US or Chinese companies or funds.
The framework for screening of foreign direct investments into EU which is under legislative process in Brussels is certainly going in the right direction.
However, it is urgent that Europe, at the same time, stimulates massively its European AI startups to put them on a level playing field to compete at world scale and coordinate in a better way the implementation of selected geographic AI ecosystem with appropriate research funding (basic & applied).
TOTAL is a global energy company at the leading edge of AI & robotics in energy.
We are committed to pioneer new technologies for a cleaner and safer world matching energy needs and economical growth. Innovating is crucial to stay in the race, this is a strong message for young engineers and European stakeholders.