AI in Auto Is Changing the Way We Think About the Design, Production, and Performance of Vehicles
Artificial intelligence (AI) has become a popular buzzword over the last few years, but what role does AI play when it comes to autonomous vehicles (AVs)?
First, you must consider the human perspective of driving a car. When we stop at a stop sign, we use our memory to make a quick decision. Thanks to years of driving experience, we understand what we need to look for while driving—whether it’s a pedestrian crossing the street or a quicker route to the store.
Now, automotive and tech companies are using Artificial Intelligence in Auto to build technology that replicates that quick, instantaneous decision-making, creating AVs that drive like humans but better.
To build truly autonomous vehicles, companies need to provide AVs with the sensory functions, cognitive functions (logical thinking, learning, and decision-making), and executive capabilities that humans rely on to drive.
Between the design, production, and performance of cars we currently drive (and those we’ll drive in the future), there are countless opportunities for AI to expand. The question is not if, but when, AI will take over the automotive industry—and will automotive companies, suppliers, and manufacturing plants be ready?
The Four Categories of Artificial Intelligence in Auto
Within the auto industry, there are four primary categories of AI. The first category, machine learning (ML), involves algorithms that learn from experience and data. While ML is commonly associated with product innovations, such as self-driving cars, it can also have a significant impact on marketing and manufacturing.
The second category, deep learning, is a type of ML. Deep learning enables computers to make accurate predictions about behavior. Considering the massive amounts of data collected from smartphones and social networks, deep learning is a rapidly growing component of AI.
The third category is natural language processing, which is the ability of computers to process and analyze human speech and natural language data. Similarly, the fourth category—machine vision—is the ability of computers to identify and process visual cues.
How AI Is Already Powering Vehicles
Currently, most AV models on the market are performing at a Level 2 (partial automation) or Level 2+ (advanced partial automation) stage of AV functionality. At this level, AVs are already performing critical functions such as automatic braking, lane detecting, and highway and traffic jam assistance, which allows drivers to take their hands off the wheel and look away from the road for a few seconds for a more relaxing driving experience.
At Level 3 (conditional automation), drivers will be able to fully disengage from driving in specific environments and driving scenarios. For example, in heavy traffic jams, The AI technology in L3 AVs will be able to take over full control of the vehicle driving — using its advanced decision-making process to accelerate, steer, and brake safely. However, when traffic scenarios resume to normal driving patterns, the capabilities of L3 AI are limited, triggering an alert to the driver to resume control of the vehicle. As a result, there is currently strong consumer interest in AVs with conditional automation features.
What Is the Future of AI in Auto?
The number of AI systems used in infotainment and advanced driver assistance systems is predicted to increase from 7 million in 2015 to 122 million by 2025. As the information fed into in-vehicle infotainment (IVI) and telematics systems increases, AVs will be able to capture and share internal system status, location data, and changes in surroundings—all in real-time.
More automotive companies are fitting AVs with cameras, sensors, and advanced communications systems, which permits the vehicles to generate massive amounts of data. In turn, the generated data enables the vehicle to think, see, hear, and make decisions like human drivers.
With advanced capabilities, increased safety will likely be the primary focus of AI development in the foreseeable future. New concepts like vehicle-to-vehicle technology (VV) are currently under development, which could help reduce accidents by connecting vehicles on a network.
AI in the Production Process
AI is increasingly finding applications in the production process. Today, AI is implemented in auto manufacturing, including the design, supply chain, and production process. Aftermarket services, including predictive maintenance and insurance, are also transforming with the advancement of AI.
In manufacturing, robots are working alongside humans and learning automotive manufacturing skills through the machine-learning processes of AI. In the future, it’s possible that entire manufacturing plants could be operated by AI-powered robots.
Electrification is also impacting the workforce. With fewer parts, assembly needs for EVs are much simpler than traditional ICE vehicles, lowering the number of front-line workers needed at assembly plants. We’re also seeing a shift of needs in higher-level positions as well. Electrical and software engineers are replacing mechanical and material engineers.
Although the replacement of low-skill workers may negatively affect the labor force, auto companies can and should focus on retraining these workers for higher-level tasks.
How to prepare your business for AI?
Artificial intelligence is fundamentally transforming the automotive industry, and auto companies should start preparing now for the adoption of AI and AV technology. By studying how AI can impact their business, business owners, suppliers, and investors can develop powerful strategies to improve day-to-day operations, future outlooks, and long-term success.
Have questions about AI’s impact on your business? Let’s talk. At Paul Eichenberg Strategic Counseling, we use our decades of experience in the automotive industry and in-depth research processes to help automotive businesses understand impacts and gain a competitive edge in a rapidly changing market.
If you have any questions specific to your company, we’re available to help. Schedule a consultation today.