How AI is changing the automotive industry

Vivek Rajkhowa writes about the growth of new technology in industry.

In 2018, 95 million vehicles were produced, consequently it is not surprising that manufacturers are looking for ways to enhance car production in a manner that is both affordable and profitable. The solution increasingly seems to be artificial intelligence or AI, with 10% of automotive companies deploying AI at scale over the past few years. The reason for this could be found in the definition of AI. AI, as described by Minsky and McCarthy is any task performed by a machine that would have previously been considered to require human intelligence.

With this in mind, how exactly is AI changing the automotive industry?

AI has helped bring about changes in the ways in which factories are making vehicles. Increasingly it seems that factories are using robots, that are seated along the assembly line to help complete technical and precise factory tasks at a faster pace than that of a human worker. Some factories are implementing machine learning software which can predict the up and coming failures within the factory. With the help of the software, factories are therefore able to moderate or fix the issues before anything can go wrong. This feature has enabled downtime within the manufacturing process to decrease, allowing work efficiency to remain as high as possible.

Additionally, as AI develops and its implementation grows, it is likely that there will be a much more productive workforce through robot and human collaboration. As the Mckinsey Digital has noted, advances in computer vision are driving progress toward context aware robots willing to collaborate with their human counterparts. This development will likely simplify the factory design by reducing the current need for robot-only areas, which will make it far easier to instruct robots thus helping to save money on development and deployment, alongside increasing productivity.

Another big way in which AI is changing the automotive industry is through providing driver assistance functions. A tool which has already been incorporated into many vehicles is the AI sensor tool that helps drivers with blind spots, collision detection, pedestrian detection and lane monitoring to help drivers identify dangerous situations and prepare or avoid them accordingly. Furthermore, through the use of algorithms, AI can analyse a driver’s driving pattern, and thus predict the risk that might arise from a particular driver’s habits and actions. Similarly, through the use of a fatigue monitoring device, AI can monitor the vitals of a driver to alert them and take control of the vehicle in the case of an emergency.

In light of the current pandemic, AI brings another huge benefit through automating supply chain processes such as demand forecasting and production planning. For example, FPT-Software has developed an AI that can automatically:
• Calculate the remaining space of a warehouse and recommend the best loading options for a specific type of product in a specific warehouse
• Semi-automate checking and loading of parcels into the truck

• Use cognitive visual recognition to help check products before receipt in the warehouse.
AI has also slowly crept into the automotive insurance industry, through predicting the future. But unlike humans, AI can be programmed to analyse the most recent events in a driver’s life alongside the driver’s actions to assess whether there is a threat to the future of this person on the road. Data suggests that risk profiles combined with AI analysis are a lot more accurate as they take into account less obvious factors and do not solely focus on the past.

Perhaps the biggest benefit of AI for the automotive industry outside of leaner supply chains and cheaper costs is the development of autonomous cars. Once seen as something only possible in movies, increasingly AI is being used to experiment with the production of autonomous vehicles. Manufacturers are experimenting with a range of technology and algorithms that would enable the AI to drive the vehicle without being distracted by the actions of others whilst sticking to the rules of the road. This experimentation has seen the rise of a variety of tech start-ups who hope to find a niche in the market. Such companies include nuTonomy which has developed a AI powered vehicle that can navigate the most complex of traffic situations. The potential of nuTonomy has seen the company partner with Lyft to test out vehicles amongst its Boston clientele.

AI is changing the way the automotive industry operates. Alongside providing new and exciting opportunities through autonomous cars, AI is enabling companies to lower their costs and increase productivity. As our understanding of AI grows, the potential benefits can only increase.