Artificial intelligence and machine learning are all the rage right now with techies and big businesses. They have opened the door to a future of intelligent working machines, unfathomable data processing power, and speeds, as well as creative, problem-solving computers. 

But what is AI? Artificial intelligence is intelligence that isn’t of biological makeup, created by artificial means. Put simply, it simulates some of the ways human brains operate to process information the way humans (or animals) do. 

Where a normal computer is as good as the software it’s programmed with, often only able to follow a set of instructions to reach its goal — AI can be taught to identify patterns or make decisions to reach new goals that normal computers and software can’t. They have neural nets, artificial “neurons” that perform similarly to human brains. Here are five ways this amazing technology is changing the automotive landscape. 

1 — Autonomous Cars 

Cars that drive themselves have been the vision of futurists for a long time. In the 1980s, they were crude and lacked the ability to do most things a human driver can, but in recent decades, these cars and pickup trucks have only been getting better and better. But what’s changed to make these cars more than just pre-programmed machines? Their ability to process and learn. 

Along with increased processing power and better sensors, self-driving cars also rely on neural networks to process images and surroundings to better understand what they’re looking at. Is that a stop sign? Is that a human and their dog walking across the road? 

Image recognition has become immensely powerful in these cars, and they can make decisions much quicker than human drivers can. That’s why they’re already on the roads and they are so far outperforming their human counterparts! 

2 — Driver Assist 

Another way that AI has complemented the automotive industry is through driver assist functions. Whilst we’re not quite ready for fully autonomous vehicles, some cars on the road have reached a halfway point. 

With AI computing monitoring sensor inputs (camera, proximity sensors), it can conduct some basic functions such as following the car in front of it on the highway. This also opens the door to safety features — AI can identify impending crashes or safety hazards and brake if needed or alert the driver. This also increases the trust of the driver in AI, which will be handy when they arrive in car dealerships — some as soon as 2021! 

3 — The Manufacturing Process 

AI isn’t just great inside vehicles. Ford has been pioneering the way forward with AI integrated into the manufacturing process and Ford service centers, and has been doing so for about two decades now. 

They use AI to conduct quality assurance, a powerful and watchful eye that can monitor the quality of items better than a human can. They also use AI in their innovative misfire detection system. Ford has proven the capabilities of AI inside and outside the lab, demonstrating that they can automate processes humans find easy but normal computers find difficult. 

4 — Smart Technology and the Internet of Things 

As mentioned before, driver assist is being controlled by AI in many automotive systems. But there are also more passive systems that can be controlled or monitored by AI. 

Ford again has utilized AI by means of controlling two- and four-wheeled drive with massive efficiency. The AI can detect whether it needs to switch to four-wheel drive quicker than a human brain and also shift between the two quicker. On top of that, AI is helping improve the fuel efficiency of engines, acceleration, braking, climate control, seating and mirror position, driver monitoring (recognizing the facial gestures and features of sleepiness) and the interactive screens of cars (speech recognition and communication). It seems Ford — as well as other automotive companies — have realized this AI potential and are acting fast to implement it. 

Some AI can also monitor sensors detecting equipment failure. Connect this all with the internet (4G and 5G networks), you begin to develop something that can schedule repairs, automatically diagnose vehicles, and inform manufacturers of issues to work on. This is known as the internet of things; a powerful network of connected computers, AI and sensors. 

5 — Marketing 

Advertising and marketing have become a battleground, especially in the last 10 years. Add this to the massive influx of data being received by business servers every second of the day, and it becomes almost impossible for a human to sit, sift through data, identify trends and tailor it to a general consumer — let alone an individual one! This is called “Big Data”. 

AI-based clouds can analyze consumer behavior in a way incomparable to humans, analyzing hundreds if not thousands of data points per second, identifying patterns, and matching them to potential products to send via email, calls or website ads. 

Considering many vehicles also have infotainment systems too, AI can also suggest movies, songs, locations, and activities right at the driver’s dashboards. AI makes marketing exponentially easier in 2019 and beyond.

Tom Parillo

Tom Parillo

I am interested in all things technology, especially automation, robotics and tech that helps change how society will live in the future.