The days of consumer shopping for a vehicle to simply go from here to there are over. Today, automotive vehicles resemble more of a connected, immersive experience than just a travel tool, with vehicles outfitted with augmented reality windshields, concert-quality sound systems, and self-driving technology. Consumers’ choices are influenced heavily by which kinds of technology-enabled features they prefer. From production to the on-the-road experience, the application of AI has reinvented what’s possible in the industry for both original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and consumers. Overall, the largest areas of AI application in automotive to-date have been in the areas of manufacturing, driver experience, and mobility.
Dissecting AI’s Impact across the automotive industry – and what’s next
Starting with the creation of the vehicles, AI has enabled the introduction of truly smart factories, which have allowed companies to improve their manufacturing operations as well as overall equipment effectiveness by capturing, analyzing, and visualizing plant floor data. By processing this mass amount of data more quickly and accurately, companies are able to track and trace the entire production process. This helps them to identify inefficiencies across the factory floor as well as the steps needed to minimize them, leading to an increase in production at lower costs with less time spent. AI’s impact in manufacturing also means that retailers and consumers can rely on a more consistent supply chain that is less prone to error, helping improve both the selling and buying experience. Additionally, manufacturers are using the technology to improve efficiency post-sales by using sales data to help them reduce stock in items which are experiencing less demand.
On top of making manufacturing faster, more efficient, and less costly, AI is also allowing automotive OEMs to increase the sustainability of their overall operations. The collection and intelligent analysis of data in real-time allows manufacturers to easily pinpoint where their actions can be more sustainable and use less resources. With stakeholders from investors to customers (and an increasing number of governments around the world) holding companies to higher stakes when it comes to sustainable manufacturing and production, this will only become a more important application in the next few years.
Cars today are more like supercomputers, with software being the new fuel that allows drivers to experience new and more immersive experiences.
In tandem with immersive experiences, cars and other vehicles are also becoming safer to drive. For example, AI’s implementation of hands-free voice CX is frequently programmed into cars’ dashboards, allowing drivers to make calls, send text messages, look up directions, or find local restaurants instantly instead of typing them into their phones while trying to keep their eyes on the road.
AI has even changed the driver experience from outside the car, such as slowing to a stop, staying in a line, and paying for a toll with cash. Most tolls are now able to use computer vision – enabling computers to identify and understand surrounding objects via sensors, images, and video data – to instantly detect and identify vehicles, and subsequently send and process all payments digitally. It has also allowed automotive companies to better understand their customers and provide them with relevant communication, service, and solutions that are more personalized to their unique needs.
Overall, AI technology has allowed automotive OEMs to better access, understand, use, and update a variety of services necessary to provide drivers with new mobility solutions. Even in this early era of AI applications, mobility solutions made it possible to drastically improve driver and rider safety.
For example, the introduction of advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS) – which use automated technology to detect and respond to obstacles or other dangers on the roadway – have been rapidly adopted and today, are a new standard in industry safety.
Level-4 ADAS are self-driving vehicles, which have evolved significantly over the past few years. Today, several different OEMs leverage technology to allow their vehicles to assist with driving autonomously, based on the kind of intelligence only made possible through mass amounts of data and machine learning.
We’re seeing more and more “smart cities” designed with features that integrate with AI mobility solutions in vehicles to enhance safety even further. For example, computer vision has been incorporated into many cities’ traffic management systems, where they use this advanced intelligence to detect pedestrians and vehicles better and enhance the flow of traffic. Even solutions like smart parking applications have helped drivers across the world to have a safer experience on the road, while also opening up new opportunities for companies to create a better world through technology.
Despite all of the innovation and benefits that AI has already brought to the automotive industry, we’ve only scratched the surface of what’s possible. As we continue to learn how to better harness and apply this technology, and investments and developments in the technology grow exponentially, we can expect it to become even more integral to the automotive experience, from manufacturing to driving. We’re already seeing new tech coming – from new robots on the factory floor to vast improvements in vehicles’ energy efficiency – and it has us incredibly excited to witness and help build the next era of this industry. However, with the hype cycle around AI continuing to grow, it’s important for automotive companies to carefully research the ways that the adoption and successful application of it can help them achieve their specific business goals as they explore potential investments in this technology.