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AI and the Automotive Industry

Artificial intelligence is being increasingly leveraged in the automotive industry and there is progress being made towards fully autonomous vehicles that are completely driverless. A fully autonomous vehicle means a car or truck in which a human operator is not required to navigate the vehicle safely. Currently on the road there are partially autonomous vehicles which can keep in lane and may also park themselves, but they are not completely autonomous from the need to have some control of a human operator.

The AI in cars with autonomy simulates human perceptual and decision making processes.The developers of these cars use huge amounts of data from image recognition systems alongside machine learning and neural networks. The neural networks work to identify patterns within the data, which then feeds to the machine learning algorithms. Included in this data is images from cameras which makes the neural network to identify traffic lights, people, road signs, curbs, trees and any potential hazard that the car then reacts to in the safest possible manner.

The Society of Automotive Engineers have defined six levels of autonomous vehicles.

Level 0: no driving automation

Level 1: driver assistance

Level 2: partial driving automation

Level 3: conditional driving automation

Level 4: high driving automation

Level 5: full driving automation

A level 5 vehicle would require no human intervention and it would not even have pedals or a steering wheel. This means that the driver could engage in any activity whilst in the vehicle and not pay any attention to the road. The lack of pedals and a steering wheel mean that the driver would not be able to carry out any kind of manual intervention and their safety and the safety of others around them would be fully entrusted to the vehicle. This kind of robotic vehicle would work on all kinds of surfaces, all over the world, in any weather condition and all year round.

The auto industry is still far from mass producing level 5 autonomous vehicles. An incredibly rigorous cycle of development and testing is needed to ensure that the vehicles are 100% safe and operational. The vehicle software needs to be able to anticipate any scenario and react in the best way possible. The introduction of autonomous cars to the market also relies on governments developing and passing regulations as well as insurance companies including self-driving cars in their policies. These processes will be complex and time consuming because a high level of scrutiny and deliberation will be necessary to ensure the policies are safe and dependable.

There are pros and cons to weigh up with the introduction of driverless cars to the road. One of the pros is that a driverless car removes the bad behaviors and slow reactions that human drivers can exhibit when driving. Over 80% of the crashes on the road are a result of human error. If AI is in control of operating the vehicle, then this removes human flaws and errors.  If AI is handling the vehicle, then issues such as drowsiness, distraction, road rage, operating under the influence, and inexperience will not be a problem. A further pro is that it makes it more possible for people with disabilities to drive from one location to another with independence because they would not need to rely on public transportation or friends and family to have freedom to move from location to location.

However, as well as the pros there are some concerns and cons with autonomous vehicles. Because they are AI operated this leaves them susceptible to hacking. If the security of the vehicle was compromised, then the potential for terrorism and violence would be a big concern. A further con is that current driverless cars cannot interpret human traffic signals with current the technology.  The current autonomous vehicles operate using a system of radar, cameras and lidar sensors which is how they react to traffic lights and other signals and signs. However, there are some situations that cause law enforcement to direct traffic using hand signals which current autonomous vehicles would not know how to interpret or navigate. The technology behind autonomous vehicles is quickly advancing, therefore the questions regarding driverless cars might start occupying more of the news and discussion regarding AI.

Overview of Artificial Intelligence Technology

Benefits & Risks of Artificial Intelligence

The History of Artificial Intelligence

Self-Driving Cars 101

4 Types of AI: Getting to Know Artificial Intelligence

Self-Driving Cars: The Impact on People with Disabilities

Legal Implications of Driverless Cars

Americans' Views on Driverless Vehicles

Environmental Pros and Cons of Self-Driving Cars | Earth.Org

The 8 Leading Companies In Self-Driving Cars of 2022

Autonomous Vehicles and AI Chip Innovation - Global Semiconductor Alliance

The Future of Driverless Cars - Autonomous Vehicles and their Due Date

Do Traffic Signals Need a Fourth Light for Self-Driving Cars?

AI Tools for Mechanics

How Safe Are Self-Driving Cars?

20 Pros and Cons of Driverless Cars

Three Scenarios with Self-Driving Vehicles

The Trolley Problem and Self-Driving Cars

A Timeline of Tesla's Self-Driving Aspirations

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