Putting AI behind the wheel

With the future of automated vehicles just over the horizon, ACN explores how the automotive industry is changing to meet this demand

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Putting AI behind the wheel Brent: As vehicles become a part of the Internet-of-Things, it’s such an exciting time for us the automotive industry to be able to deliver better experiences for our consumers through use of technology and data.
By  Alexander Sophoclis Pieri Published  April 2, 2017

According to research findings from market intelligence firm Gartner, the global connected car market is poised for rapid growth. The company projects that the production of automobiles equipped with data connectivity would have reached 12.4 million in 2016, and would continue to increase to 61 million by 2020.

Gartner’s Forecast: Connected Car Production, Worldwide report also showed that connected car technology will create new opportunities for automakers to devise novel post-sale services and feature upgrades. It will also give automaker’s the opportunity to improve brand loyalty by creating more personalised customer experiences, and may also support related businesses, such as insurance and car rental services, in improving their offerings as well.

Additionally, the company predicts that future car applications will increase demand for contextual information, such as image detection and geolocation, by 150%, over the 2016 to 2020 period.

“Connected vehicles will continue to generate new product and service innovations, create new companies, enable new value propositions and business models, and introduce the new era of smart mobility, in which the focus of the automotive industry shifts from individual car ownership to a more service-centric view of personal mobility,” commented James Hines, research director at Gartner.

“As cars become more automated, they are being equipped with an increasing array of sensing technologies, including cameras and radar systems … many automobiles will use image detection as the primary means to identify and classify objects in the vicinity of the vehicle so they can provide more sophisticated responses and even have autonomous control.”

Garnter’s report also concluded that to become more automated and environmentally friendly, automobiles will require 5% more embedded processing functions, year-over-year, from 2016 to 2020.

These include automated driving functions, such as adaptive cruise control and lane departure warnings, as well as improved engine and transmission control systems, to deliver better fuel efficiency and reduced emissions.

As a result, the bulk of automotive manufacturers are shifting their priorities to better position themselves in capitalising on this expanding segment of the market. One such automaker is the Ford Motor Company, which back in February, 2017, entered into the spotlight following an announcement that it would be investing $1bn into Argo AI, an artificial intelligence firm.

Founded by former members of both Google and Uber’s leadership, Argo AI is tasked with creating a virtual driver system for Ford’s autonomous vehicle range, set to be unveiled in 2021. The team behind the project, which focuses on developing machine-learning software that will serve as the central control ‘brain’ of autonomous vehicles, will capitalise on Argo AI’s expertise in robotics. The project’s culmination will see the realisation of a virtual driver system for Ford’s SAE level 4 self-driving vehicles.

Commenting on the $1bn investment, Jacques Brent, president of Ford Middle East and Africa, highlighted that “It strengthens Ford’s leadership in autonomy – with an open collaboration unlike any other partnership in the industry.

“It gives us the best of both worlds by creating a hybrid model of collaboration combining the speed of a start up with Ford’s strengths in scaling technology, systems integration and vehicle design,” he added.

Brent pointed out that while the work will support Ford’s goal in creating a range of autonomous vehicles, the development of a virtual driver system will also provide an opportunity for the automaker to license the system to other companies.

Adding his own perspective on the state of the automotive industry, Ford’s MEA president was quite positive, sharing that it is the opportunities around autonomous and connected vehicles mark this an “exciting time” for the industry.

“If we look at the traditional auto industry, today the industry achieves around $2.3 trillion in revenue per year and Ford gets about 6% of that. Transportation products and services achieve about $5.4 trillion in revenue — and growing — and we and other automakers currently receive virtually none of that. Our opportunity is to build on the strengths of our core business and take advantage of these emerging transportation services,” explains Brent.

“As vehicles become a part of the Internet-of-Things, it’s such an exciting time for us in the automotive industry to be able to deliver better experiences for our consumers through use of technology and data.

“It also opens up collaboration between tech and auto industry, to work together to make consumers life better. The challenge and opportunity associated with the development and commercialisation of autonomous vehicles are huge.

“We see room for multiple companies to successfully deliver this future mobility option and create value for their shareholders and ultimately for consumers,” he concludes.

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