BERLIN – Vehicle connectivity, automated driving and the advance of artificial intelligence are hotly debated topics for delegates at AutoTech Europe 2023 here.
In a panel discussion, Lobna Karoui, ADAS, safety and emerging services director for Stellantis, highlights the importance of the three areas to the multi-brand automaker, saying: “In such a big group, we have a huge space to explore and exploit AI. We acquired aiMotive for our automated driving capability – we are at Level 2 plus right now but intend to move to Level 3 as soon as possible.
“It’s there that people will start thinking about how they can entertain themselves when in automated mode. ADAS also uses AI to enhance our features and put it to the service of our customers in features line lane assist and adaptive cruise control and you will see the proliferation of the technologies in our vehicles.”
In the automotive insurance space, AI is already making big in-roads says Tariq Hafeez, co-founder and president of LegalEase Solutions LLC.
“In insurance, we are now looking at machine learning using AI to ask ‘How much is a claim worth?’” Hafeez says. “As you see the proliferation of vehicles built on software, such as the SDV, AI has the potential of nipping claims in the bud before a company starts wasting money on them. For example, for one automaker client, by predicting the outcome from the beginning we saved around 80% of potential legal fees.”
However, the panel accepts there are challenges around the unbridled use of AI. Peter J Laszkowicz, emerging technology advisor at Futurice, the gives this stark warning to the auto industry: “There are two rules I follow when developing new technology applications and they are, firstly, to build it off-line and, secondly, not to rely on a single source, such as an open source like OpenAI. Those are exactly the rules that the auto industry is breaking right now!
“You need a code of conduct even before you start working with AI, plus we need to put our faith unbiased models to be applied to the technology’s development,” he says. “It’s just like the original cars. They were dangerous to drive. That’s why regulation came in to improve the product.”
Updates in the ongoing journey of consumer-focused subscription services enters the debate in a panel discussion titled “The Marketability of Subscription Services One Year Later.” Scott Lyons, founder of MakeItDriveable Program for Ford of Europe, provides insight into how the automaker’s models are working for its customers.
“There have been so many hot trends thrown at the wall and some have not worked, like smart mobility or even autonomous driving,” Lyons says. “Yet, BlueCruise semi-autonomous cruise control is selling to lots of people because the value to the consumer is there. That is proving to be very popular. However, there is a lot more work to be done to improve the service through regular OTAs.
“Now the industry is changing with the realization that we just don’t make cars. What should we be charging for and what we should be giving away, like heated seats?” he asks, alluding to BMW’s failed attempt to charge for this basic amenity. “The industry has always moved between boom and bust because the cost of a vehicle is a very large commitment. So, in the lean times, it’s the services revenues that will stabilize the industry. As vehicle users ourselves, we have to ask ourselves would we pay for a service and sometimes it will be ‘Hell, no!’”
The consumer experience is featured in the presentation “User Data – the Gold Rush.” Polestar’s lead in connected experience remote features, Chris Fogelklou, coins a new approach called lean UX.
“It looks at what is being used and ignores every other possible feature to concentrate on those to make them work perfectly,” Fogelklou says. “You need to have a platform to test lean UX so it would be used after the product has been launched because you need something to play with.”
He bemoans the fact that so many automakers collect user data differently saying that collaboration in this field would boost efficiencies for everyone. Fogelklou adds: “I hope this happens but we have to convince the ‘higher-ups’ that it would be a good idea without compromising people’s privacy. Digital key and plug-in standards have happened so there is a possibility that data collection would become standard too.”
Finally, mobility and its relationship to both connected and, potentially, automated vehicles got its airing during a fireside chat titled “Mobility’s Realism Phase,” with David Wong, head of technology and innovation for the UK’s Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders.
Obviously, the title gives an indication that automated driving still is mired in uncertainty with the latest woes being experienced by General Motors’ Cruise service now suspended at all levels including those manually operated by human drivers. Still, Wong points to the areas where the technology is making progress, such as in closed industrial environments.
“This area also covers goods carrying driverless delivery vehicles where some can be seen used in agriculture, mining and even factories already operating in Australia,” he says.
He highlights some success with the adoption of battery-electric vehicles. but sparks a lively debate with the audience over U.K. government fines facing automakers next year if they don’t sell more than 22% of their output as zero-emission products. These fines facing mass producers will amount to £15,000 ($18,636) per vehicle sold in the market that year, potentially a multi-million dollar penalty.
In acknowledging the threat, Wong says: “We have been asking the U.K. government how the new-car market for private owners can be supported because it’s plateaued now at 16% of vehicle sales. Sales for commercial users amount to 25% of all BEVs sold because they get special incentives that private buyers do not. So, we want the government to reintroduce the incentives to buy these cars because BEV adoption has to be equitable for everyone.”