The concept of an intelligent car has been around for decades. And vehicles have been getting “smarter” thanks to increasingly sophisticated systems.
They help with everything from engine performance to providing information for passengers. But advancements in artificial intelligence truly hold the key to transforming what was once the stuff of science fiction into everyday reality.
The most prominent way AI will transform the automotive industry is through autonomous vehicles.
The big aim for autonomous is safety: globally more than one million people die in traffic accidents each year, with millions more injured. When the vision of full autonomy is realized, the vast majority of such deaths and injuries can be prevented as vehicles communicate with each other to avoid crashes.
Even though fully autonomous vehicles might be a decade or more down the road, steps toward that end goal are already helping to showcase areas where AI can assist the driving experience.
Companies such as Eyesight have developed technology that monitors drivers in real-time, ensuring they remain attentive behind the wheel.
The same principles apply to the products developed by CarVi, which can prevent abrupt and dangerous lane departures, reducing the likelihood of accidents.
Insurance companies can also use information from driver-monitoring technology to more accurately assess risk and reward good driving and reduce rates for safe drivers.
While drivers are getting a helping hand, passengers will also enjoy better experiences on trips of any length thanks to AI. Navigation and voice commands are already commonplace automotive technologies, but they’ve only begun to fulfill their vast potential.
With AI’s power to utilize vast amounts of data to fuel predictions, the vehicles of the next decade could foresee traffic snarls before they happen and suggest alternate routes to save time and reduce stress on the road.
In addition, voice-enabled chatbots will be able to understand more complex questions from passengers to find exactly the kind of food, lodging or points of interest they seek with a minimum of effort.
By analyzing previous queries, these chatbots might even skip the initial parts of those conversations altogether over time, knowing that, for instance, a family needs to find a rest stop every few hours on a long road trips.
Technology will provide a level of assurance that everything on a vehicle is working properly. Already, car manufacturers are exploring ways to replace the owner’s manual with a chatbot. It’s much easier to ask your vehicle where something is located than to page through a book to find out.
AI will spend time going over how far and in what conditions you’ve recently driven your car, comparing it with known wear patterns for similar vehicles and recommending preventative maintenance, reducing the chances of a break down.
Nissan-Renault and Volkswagen are some of the companies already making inroads in this area, teaming with Microsoft to harness its cloud technology for the cars they build in 2020 and beyond.
When all of these various AI-related developments come to fruition, they will redefine the concept of a supercar. It could still take a few years for everything to come together, but once it happens, the vehicles in everyday life will be smart and provide tangible benefits for us to enjoy. (Wards Industry Voices contributor Madhu Mathihalli, left)
Madhu Mathihalli is the chief technology officer and co-founder of Passage AI. He has more than 20 years of experience creating data-driven products using machine-learning and big-data optimization techniques.