In the movie iRobot there is a scene where the protagonist speaks to his in-car computer via heads-up display. Set in the year 2035, it’s worth checking out because as well as being a shameless piece of product placement by Audi, it also serves as a perfect illustration of how the ‘in-car experience’ may evolve over time, minus the killer robots – we hope!
Audi is not the only OEM that is thinking about how how A.I. could be used to add value to its customers’ driving experience. Jaguar Land Rover is in the process of developing what they call “a truly intelligent self-learning vehicle”. Using the latest machine learning and artificial intelligence techniques, their proposed “self-learning car” will offer a comprehensive array of services to the driver. By being able to recognise who is in the car it will be able to learn their preferences and driving style.
"Dr Wolfgang Epple, Director of Research and Technology for Jaguar Land Rover, said: “Up until now most self-learning car research has only focused on traffic or navigation prediction. We want to take this a significant step further and our new learning algorithm means information learnt about you will deliver a completely personalised driving experience and enhance driving pleasure.”
Jaguar Land Rover’s ‘Smart Assistant’ will apparently be able to take a peek at your calendar and set the in-car navigation to find the quickest route based on your schedule. It will also learn, for example, that you like your car hot when you head to the gym in winter but cool when you return to the vehicle, post-workout. Settings will be ‘portable’ so rental cars, for example, made by Jaguar Land Rover will automatically recognize the passenger and adjust the car’s settings accordingly. Jaguar Land Rover have yet to announce when ‘Smart Assistant’ will become available but we’re sure it will be worth the wait, so watch this space.
Another pioneering organisation that is set to revolutionise car design is, of course, Google which has so far tested their driverless creations on more than a million miles of tarmac.
Driverless vehicles became legal in California, Nevada and Florida earlier this year so it is inevitable that other states and nations will soon follow. When you see one of Google’s driverless bug-eyed bubble cars whizz down your street, you’ll know the future has finally arrived in your neighbourhood!
Yet another application for A.I. is robotics. When we think of robots we usually conjure up images of Honda’s ASIMO – the cute and affable automaton. In fact the area of greatest progress is the production-line where robotic arms, not humanoids, rule the roost. An increasing number of OEMs have seen dramatic increases in both quality and productivity since the introduction of robotic workers. Ford has been using robots at their manufacturing plants in Europe for a while but more recently the corporation installed an additional 700 at their Louisville assembly plant in Kentucky and a further 600 robots in their Flat Rock plant in Michigan.
According to the International Federation of Robotics, average industrial robot sales between 2008 and 2013 have increased by 9.5% per year (CAGR). The automotive industry remains the most important customer worldwide increasing investment “significantly” since 2010, according to the IFR.
All this technology is very exciting but a word of warning from an industry luminary. While speaking at an event in San Francisco earlier this month Musk spoke about his belief that humanity may become architects of its own demise. He said “I hope we’re not just the biological boot loader for digital superintelligence. Unfortunately, that is increasingly probable.”
You have been warned!
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