Finding applications of artificial intelligence in the automotive industry requires only a scant reading of news headlines. From IBM Watson’s partnership with the General Motors OnStar platform to Toyota’s $1 billion investment in AI-based self-driving technology, the marriage of AI with automotive technology has surely been consummated. It seems that every stakeholder in the automotive industry is looking for a way to capitalize on recent advances in AI technology.
While artificial intelligence automotive applications that involve driverless cars receive the most attention, this is only one of many uses for artificial intelligence in the car industry. In this article, we will look at artificial intelligence automotive industry trends to see what factors are driving this explosive new market.
Although attempts to create driverless cars began in the 1970s, the lack of suitable technology kept autonomous vehicles a distant dream for decades. With the development of small, powerful computers, the GPS system, and, most notably AI, self-driving cars are now not only a possibility, they are here — almost.
While totally autonomous vehicles have not made it to the showroom floor just yet, a few companies have committed to making autonomous driving a reality in the near future. Google, the recognized leader in automated car development, and Tesla are both expending millions of dollars on technology and R&D teams. Both have test vehicles on the road and are rapidly inching toward commercialization of autonomous vehicles.
Tesla, apparently, is quite comfortable that their technology is ready for the road. In October 2016, Tesla announced that all new Tesla vehicles will come equipped with all the hardware needed for fully-automated driving. However, regulation approval and software validation is needed before the vehicles can be switched into driverless mode.
But Uber has some plans of its own.
Having hired hundreds of engineers, and a few auto mechanics, Uber has announced plans to have a fleet of fully automated Volvo XC90 SUVs on the road by 2021. Already deep into the R&D stage, Uber is convinced that the Uber driver will become extinct in Pittsburg, where it plans to begin testing sooner rather than later.
While relatively few companies are working on fully-automated models, a growing number of manufacturers are easing in that direction. By introducing features that assist the driver without actually taking the wheel, many companies are taking a cautious approach to AI-based features, while still turning out vehicles with advanced safety features. Automatic braking, collision avoidance systems, pedestrian and cyclists alerts, cross-traffic alerts, and intelligent cruise controls are some of the lesser features being powered by AI.
The willingness of vehicle manufacturers to develop automated cars, transfer trucks, and other vehicles opens a wealth of new opportunities. Companies that can put rubber to the road and innovate in this exciting new market will find investment dollars plentiful.
Cloud computing has certain advantages that make it the perfect platform for staging and deploying AI technology in the automotive field. Among these are fast processing speed, big data access and analytics, and centralized connectivity. As companies endeavor to develop cutting-edge automotive technology, cloud-based platforms will be developed to support them.
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One example of where the power of the cloud is being used is the partnership between General Motors and IBM’s Watson supercomputer. An extension of GM’s popular OnStar system, the platform being developed will include AI-enhanced features.
How can cloud-based AI platforms make life easier for drivers? While even GM and IBM are thinking about that question, the following applications are already available or will be soon:
- Locating gas stations and enabling the driver to pay for their fuel purchase from inside the vehicle.
- Identifying nearby restaurants that are similar to those typically visited by the driver.
- Providing tokenization-based payment solutions embedded into the driver interface.
- Providing reminders to purchase needed household items as the driver approaches relevant stores.
- Automatically pre-ordering food as the driver approaches a certain restaurant.
With the power of cloud-based platforms, including big data analytics, this list is certain to expand exponentially.
Internet of Things
By 2020, industry analysts estimate that nearly 250 million cars will be connected to the Internet. With new vehicles coming equipped with a host of smart sensors, embedded connectivity applications, and big-data enhanced geo-analytical capabilities, it only makes sense to have an IoT tie-in as well.
Here are just a few of the ways IoT technology is impacting, or will soon impact the automotive industry.
- Through over-the-air software updates, manufactures and dealers can update the vehicle’s firmware and enable premium features.
- By sending performance data directly to the manufacturer or dealer, a connected vehicle could use IoT technology to report problems or schedule repairs.
- Through IoT, dealers could diagnose and correct certain performance issues without requiring the vehicle owner to make a shop visit.
- Fleets can be managed more efficiently and with improved safety.
- Vehicles can report fuel useage and refueling cost directly to fleet managers.
- Manufacturing quality and efficiency can be improved through IoT-based processes.
- Vehicles could automatically send data from IoT sensors to automotive manufacturers, allowing designers to make improvements in future models.
- Automatic toll collection.
- Smart sensors inside the vehicle could detect medical emergencies, such as an unconscious driver, and summon emergency personnel.
The opportunities for IoT to make driving safer and more convenient are virtually limitless. IoT innovators will find much low-hanging fruit in this emerging market.
If there is one buzzword that you will be hearing more about, it is connectivity. As the success of social media will attest, people like to be connected to people and to information, and automobile makers are using AI to help them do just that.
One of the leading trends in automotive technology is centered on helping drivers hook up. AI-based infotainment (a buzzword for a future article) systems allow drivers, and passengers, to receive and send emails, perform Internet searches, and interact with smartphone apps — all via voice command. Some vehicles will soon include their own WiFi hotspots, which use cell carriers to provide Internet connectivity. Curfew and geo-fencing features will alert parents if their child drives above a certain speed, drives outside a designated radius, or drives the vehicle outside a parent-approved timeframe.
Perhaps, the most important contribution AI is making to connected vehicles is in making vehicles safer. Through vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) technology, connected cars will have the ability to communicate with one another. V2V technology can reduce accidents by helping each car to inform other vehicles around them of what they are doing. For example, if a driver fails to slow down as they approach a red light, their connected car could alert cross traffic to avoid proceeding into the intersection. The vehicles with right of way could even brake automatically to avoid the collision.
The trend toward greater connectivity will provide opportunities yet unfathomed for developers wanting to enter the AI/automotive space.
Intelligent Insurance Risk Assessment
Always looking for ways to reduce risks, insurance companies have partnered with automotive and technology companies to help identify risky drivers. One such partnership involves Nauto, a technology developer, BMW i Ventures, and Toyota Research Institute, as well as the insurance company Allianz Group. Nauto has established agreements with the others in order to develop AI-based products that aid in fleet management, logistics, and driver safety.
Through the use of deep-learning AI technology, Nauto is developing a cloud-based platform that will track driver alertness, near misses, and unsafe driving habits. Eventually, Nauto plans to have a connected car network that will include an ever-increasing number of connected cars.
Nauto’s AI platform and associated network will help fleet companies operate their vehicles more safely and more efficiently. By tracking driver behavior, the system will help insurance companies identify drivers prone to have risky driving habits. Premiums will, no doubt, be adjusted accordingly.
Nauto’s efforts represent just one of countless opportunities for innovators in this niche space.
How Ignite Can Help?
Artificial intelligence promises to revolutionize the automotive industry and, more importantly, the automobile. The tremendous advances in technology, of late, mean opportunities not only for Google, Tesla, Uber, and major automotive companies, but for startups as well.
But penetrating this emerging market will take more than desire, more than great ideas. It will take expertise in the field. Ignite Outsourcing is an expert in automotive technology, and we would like to be your technology partner. We operate six R&D labs across Europe, giving us the capability to handle any size project at competitive outsource pricing.
Why not contact us, today, for a free consultation?