Artificial Intelligence and Autonomous Vehicles

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has taken the automotive industry by storm to drive the development of level-4 and level-5 autonomous vehicles. Why do you think AI has become so popular now, though it has been around since the 1950s? Simply put, the reason behind this explosion of AI is the humongous amount of data that we have available today. With the help of connected devices and services, we are able to collect data in every industry, thus fueling the AI revolution. While efforts are being made to rapidly improve sensors and cameras to generate data with autonomous vehicles, Nvidia unveiled its first AI computer in October 2017 to enable deep learning, computer vision and parallel computing algorithms. AI has become an essential component of automated drive technology and it is important to know how it works in autonomous and connected vehicles.

What is Artificial Intelligence?

John McCarthy, a computer scientist, coined the term ‘Artificial Intelligence’ in 1955. AI is defined as the ability of a computer program or machine to think, learn and make decisions. In general use, the term means a machine which mimics human cognition. With AI, we are getting computer programs and machines to do what humans do. We are feeding these programs and machines with a massive amount of data that is analyzed and processed to ultimately think logically and perform human actions. The process of automating repetitive human tasks is just the tip of the AI iceberg, medical diagnostics equipment and autonomous cars have implemented AI with the objective of saving human lives.

The Growth of AI in Automotive

The automotive AI market reported that it is expected to be valued at $783 million in 2017 and expected to reach close to $11k million by 2025, at a CAGR of about 38.5%. IHS Markit predicted that the installation rate of AI-based systems of new vehicles would rise by 109% in 2025, compared to the adoption rate of 8% in 2015. AI-based systems will become a standard in new vehicles especially in these two categories:

  1. Infotainment human-machine interface, including speech recognition and gesture recognition, eye tracking and driver monitoring, virtual assistance and natural language interfaces.
  2. Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) and autonomous vehicles, including camera-based machine vision systems, radar-based detection units, driver condition evaluation and sensor fusion engine control units (ECUs).

Deep learning technology, which is a technique for implementing machine learning (an approach to achieve AI), is expected to be the largest and the fastest-growing technology in the automotive AI market. It is currently being used in voice recognition, voice search, recommendation engines, sentiment analysis, image recognition and motion detection in autonomous vehicles.

How Does AI Work in Autonomous Vehicles?

AI has become a popular buzz word these days, but how does it actually work in autonomous vehicles?

Let us first look at the human perspective of driving a car with the use of sensory functions such as vision and sound to watch the road and the other cars on the road. When we stop at a red light or wait for a pedestrian to cross the road, we are using our memory to make these quick decisions. The years of driving experience habituate us to look for the little things that we encounter often on the roads — it could be a better route to the office or just a big bump in the road.