Vice Chairman Woo Yoo-cheol of Hyundai Steel.(Photo: Hyundai Steel)
Hyundai Steel has succeeded in producing next-generation auto steel sheet prototypes based on artificial intelligence algorithms used in AlphaGo, the AI computer program developed by Alphabet Inc.'s Google DeepMind to play the board game Go. With this program, the company has improved the performance of the steel sheets by more than 40 percent.
The steel maker announced on June 14 that it has applied the AlphaGo algorithms to its steel-making process after three years of R&D. AlphaGo, which beat Lee Sedol and Ke Jie, both Go world champions, found optimal mixture ratios for metals in producing automotive steel sheets. As optimal ratios may change depending on weight, price and customer requirements, researchers had to spend a lot of time to experiment and test. Auto steel sheets are produced by mixing seven different metals such as zinc, manganese and the like as well as steel. Back in 2010, a Korean steel maker came up with a steel product that has improved the performance substantially. But its production cost was too high to be practical.
This time, prototypes shown off by Hyundai Steel are 40 percent better over existing products without the burden of higher costs. Koo Nam-hoon, head of advanced R&D unit for Hyundai Steel, said, "The third-generation steel sheet that we have successfully produced this time is the outcome of maximizing strength, machinability, and price competitiveness. We also learned from this we could leverage AI technology in manufacturing innovation."
Hyundai Steel succeeded in developing a “dream” steel sheet for autos with the help of AlphaGo’s artificial intelligence.
The outstanding R&D results have been the center of attention from the business community as it is the first instance for AI to be used for industrial purposes.
The steelmaker took three years of R&D to adapt algorithms from artificial intelligence to the special features of steel manufacturing, Hyundai Steel said.
The steelmaker let AlphaGo come up with the best mix of metals in manufacturing steel sheets for autos through Google’s Deep Mind, finding out the prowess of the artificial intelligence program in go matches. The steel sheets for autos are made with a mixture of seven metals and alloys of metals including iron ore, lead, manganese, zinc and others, improving the hardness and machinability by 40 percent.
Senior Researcher Koo Nam-hoon, who leads a research team, said a new steel sheet called a “3rd generation steel sheet” boosts maximum hardness, machinability and price, confirming that AI can help reform the manufacturing industry in the age of the 4th Industrial Revolution.
As a steel mill specialized in automotive materials, Hyundai Steel is heavily engaged in the development of next generation steel for the future automotive industry.
Since the groundbreaking ceremony at the Dangjin integrated steel mill in October 2006, the first and second blast furnaces were commissioned in January and November 2010.
DeepMind is the world leader in artificial intelligence research and its application for positive impact. “We’re on a scientific mission to push the boundaries of AI, developing programs that can learn to solve any complex problem without needing to be taught how,” the company said.