Artificial intelligence has changed modern life in ways we probably don't fully realize. The revolution in how AI handles data has created algorithms that determine what we see on social media, how we buy things, and what we watch. AI-enhanced global positioning has not only made it much more difficult to get lost — it's also revolutionized the transport and airline industries. AI has developed in manufacturing and industry, weather forecasting, and medicine.
Not least of all, AI is having a major effect on how we build, drive, and think of automobiles. Self-driving cars, advanced sensor systems, heads-up displays, and a slew of other technologies have all changed the driving experience significantly — and even how cars are manufactured and sold has been impacted by the development of artificial intelligence.
Here are just a few of the ways AI has already shifted trends in the automobile industry:
As with many other industries, the automotive industry has already benefited from the advent of AI when it comes to manufacturing. Increased safety and efficiency are the two main draws of using AI in the manufacturing process — AI has been shown to reduce labor hours while increasing productivity, and machine vision can identify microscopic errors in automotive components like circuit boards that are too small for the human eye to see. Another way AI is improving the manufacturing process is "preventative maintenance," which is a system of networked sensors that can monitor and analyze industrial equipment, detecting the potential for failures and errors before they happen — thus saving considerable time and money.
While many feel autonomous vehicles have yet to truly "arrive" — which is justified, considering the ongoing troubles Tesla has with their self-driving cars — the rapid development of AI may soon make them an everyday sight on America's streets. Autonomous cars use sensors, cameras, radar, and data collection / machine learning to constantly improve their driving algorithms to help them predict and avoid obstacles and accidents. The AI software in autonomous vehicles is integrated with applications like Google Street View and, potentially, can control a vehicle as well or better than a human driver.
Autonomous vehicles are also poised to have a significant economic impact — autonomous vehicles could open the door for saving taxpayer money on emergency vehicles, and a decrease in accidents could lead to lower car insurance premiums, not to mention the safety benefits.
Finding new customers and retaining employees is always a major concern for any field of business. Car dealers have begun using AI software for lead generation, customer retention, predictive service, and managing repairs. Car dealers are also using AI algorithms to track and analyze data on purchase histories, vehicle values, market supply, dealer lot information, and other aspects of car sales.
There are five levels of automation when it comes to artificial intelligence and assisted / autonomous driving:
Currently, level 3, or "conditional automation" is where much of the development of AI is taking place. This translates to about 75% automation, where acceleration, deceleration, and steering are all handled by the AI. The driver takes the role of "co-driver," who can take control under certain conditions, but under most circumstances, can act as a passenger. The car is responsible for handling situations like emergency braking and accident avoidance.
Most vehicles on the market today already have some automation features, from driver assist technology to sensors, cameras, GPS, and other technologies. Currently, the notion of self-driving cars is still intimidating to some, but as these features grow more sophisticated and prevalent, the adoption of autonomous vehicles is likely to go nowhere but up.
The Future is Now
In many ways, the future of AI in the auto industry is already here — it just hasn't been distributed everywhere yet. AI will continue to change the auto industry when it comes to safety, customer service, personalization, comfort, and efficiency. Customer service chatbots for car dealers and manufacturers will grow more sophisticated and humanlike. Virtual assistants in showrooms may well become an industry standard. The dream of self-driving cars may become an everyday reality. Many automobile manufacturers are already building "smart factories" that collect data in real-time to help streamline productions and simplify the decision-making process.