More than most industries the automotive industry is at the front line of the technological revolution that will see artificial intelligence (AI) and automation completely alter the way we live, move and do business.
A new report, titled “Amplifying Human Potential: Towards Purposeful Artificial Intelligence” loosely defines AI as “any activity that used to only be done via human intelligence that now can be executed by a computer”.
These technologies already handle tasks such as visual perception, speech recognition, decision-making and natural language processing in support of products and services used by millions of people every day.
The Indian multinational company, Infosys, commissioned a survey of 1,600 major business leaders in various industries around the world regarding their opinions on AI technology. Seventy-one per cent of respondents said the rise of AI is “inevitable” and will be disruptive.
AI is already impacting the automotive industry. Fully-autonomous cars are coming and driver assist technology is commonplace (emergency braking, collision avoidance systems, parking assist, intelligent cruise control, etc) and becoming more advanced by the day.
In October last year Tesla announced that all new vehicles it produced would be equipped with the hardware necessary for autonomous driving. Only software validation and regulatory approval is required before fully-automated self-driving cars join the traffic fleet.
The cloud and the internet of things
We are moving towards a fully-connected world when all appliances, machinery, plant and vehicles are continuously connected to the internet. The centralised aspect of ‘cloud computing’ allows for far greater processing power, access to data, analytics and support.
Analysts predict that by 2020 – just three years away – 250 million cars will be connected to the internet. They will help drivers locate restaurants, pay for fuel without leaving their cars, even communicate with the home refrigerator to remind the owner to buy milk!
Software will be updated wirelessly, manufacturers and fleet managers will remotely monitor performance, fuel use and mileage, and perform diagnostics. The immediate feedback from systems and sensors will provide manufacturers with field data to use in work on improvements in future models.
Connectivity means greater safety
Once all cars are connected to each other via vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) technology, they can let each other know what they are doing – and precisely where they are and how fast they are moving – at any given moment. For example a car in which the driver had failed to brake could alert oncoming traffic not to enter an intersection.
Parents will be able to monitor and restrict their offspring’s car use, setting speed limits, curfews and/or geographic limits.
Cars will become Wi-Fi hotspots, allowing users to access email and search the internet via voice command. It will change the road trip experience forever!
Insurance companies have already begun partnering with OEMs and tech companies to develop the means to identify risky drivers. Near-misses, driver alertness and unsafe driving habits will be monitored and reported on, allowing insurance companies to adjust premiums appropriately.
Allianz is working in partnership with BMW i Ventures, Toyota Research and technology developer, Nauto, to develop AI products to assist with driver safety, fleet management and logistics.
The Infosys report ranked countries and certain sectors of the economy based on an AI ‘maturity index’ based on survey answers and converted to a total score of up to 100 per cent.
The report said the small number of organisations ranking in the highest maturity level of 80 to 100 per cent had “already successfully deployed AI throughout their businesses and are reaping the benefits”.
In contrast, a “small but significant” group of organisations scored between zero and 20 per cent, having “no current deployment of such technologies and no plans to do so in the near future”.
As you would expect with statistics, most respondents scored in the middle group (40 to 59 per cent), which the report labelled the “explorers”, with “partial deployments of AI” that were “proving their value.” The explorers expressed the desire to introduce more AI initiatives.
China, India, lead the pack
According to the report, China and India are the two countries most prepared for the AI age, with maturity index scores of 56 per cent and 55 per cent respectively. The report said both countries had “fewer legacy systems and business processes” delaying or obstructing the adoption of AI technologies.
Among the participating countries, they were followed by Germany (53 per cent), the US (46 per cent), UK and France (both 44 per cent). Australia bought up the rear with what was described as “a respectable average score” of 40 per cent.
Auto industry at the forefront
The pharmaceutical and life sciences industry ranked the highest at 58 per cent, followed by automotive and aerospace (54 per cent), telecommunications companies (52 per cent), energy, oil/gas and utilities (51 per cent), manufacturing (50 per cent), fast moving consumer goods (50 per cent), healthcare (50 per cent), financial services (47 per cent) and retail (44 per cent).
The only sector that scored relatively low by comparison was the public sector at 32 per cent. That suggests government organisations probably have the longest way to go in terms of adapting AI technologies.
Early adopters to profit
Business leaders surveyed said they expect a 39 per cent boost to revenues on average and a 37 per cent reduction in costs by the year 2020. Three-quarters said they expect AI to bring about positive economic and societal change.
However, 90 per cent of the leaders believe that their employees have concerns about AI regarding data safety (43 per cent) and privacy (34 per cent).
Likewise, 88 per cent said they thought that customers had concerns about AI – first and foremost a lack of understanding about AI’s use (41 per cent) as well as a mistrust of technology (38 per cent).
Businesses and workforces will have to adapt to the introduction of AI. Some jobs will become redundant, however 80 per cent of respondents said they would retrain or redeploy human employees whose jobs are impacted by AI technologies.
More than half (53 per cent) said they were investing in skills development for their human workers. A massive 95 per cent of Chinese organisations said AI would result in greater investment in their workforces. France (90 per cent) and Germany (89 per cent) followed, with the UK and US organisations at 82 per cent and 76 per cent, respectively.
“This is an optimistic sign that fears may be misplaced and that AI deployment and worker redundancy do not necessarily go hand-in-hand,” the Infosys report concluded.