How AI and autos will collide to transform mobility
Some futurists say that it may be illegal for humans to drive a car at some point down the road (pun intended). Too dangerous. Only a fool would let an actual person behind the wheel of a vehicle. As AI (artificial intelligence) advances to the point where human reaction times are totally outclassed by machines, there will be no reason to put people in harm’s way by giving them the keys to a car. Of course, there will always be the diehards who want to grab the stick-shift in a rear-wheel-drive “Beemer” on a twisty country road. Disney will probably set up DisneyDrive to help those folks scratch that itch.
There is talk of AI eventually being everywhere—becoming the new electricity, and permeating every aspect of business, culture, and society. Given the view from here in 2018, it certainly seems to be rolling in that direction (pun #2). Today, we find ourselves talking to smart-home devices, asking them to tell us what the weather will be or to give the latest sports scores or to play our favorite music. All well and good. But what about our cars?
Mobility is an area that I think is ripe for a major transformation—specifically how humans and AI balance the interaction when accessing, driving, maintaining, and even owning a car. All that could change dramatically…and soon.
What about a smart vehicle that leverages AI-powered 3D facial authentication to automatically detect a car’s rightful owner and open the door as he/she approaches? Or better yet, drive over to where the owner is! (The Tesla Model X already does this by the way.) Or an AI instance that uses the power of face recognition to adjust various settings in the car for the identified occupant: seat height, music on the audio system, climate based on assessing the weather outside compared to how the driver is dressed.
More importantly, an AI-assisted face authentication instance could evaluate the physical, mental, and even emotional condition of the driver. Nodding at the wheel? The AI speaks to you and says, “Get some coffee or pull over and rest.” Too much fun at the Irish pub with your buddies after work? “Wait until your level of sobriety increases.” What if a Nor’easter is predicted? Based on a weather analysis, the AI instance in your car could suggest you wait until the storm has abated before hitting the road.
Another really exciting use case connecting AI and cars is of course autonomy. On the road to self-driving (pun #3) there are six levels of automation, each with a specific set of requirements that a vehicle must meet. It's important to note that there's still a lot of nuance and variation of vehicle abilities, even within each level. They range from Level 0 (no automation; Uncle Bob’s 2005 Honda Accord) to Level 3, which is called Conditional, right up to Level 5 which is full automation.
Some people think that AI-driven vehicles are just some Silicon Valley tech execs pipe dream. But the work to combine AI and cars is underway and has been for quite some time. Don’t forget that the vacuum tube came before the transistor. And that mobile phones were once the size of a brick and weighed 2 pounds! Many innovations start out crudely and evolve through iteration, driven by market demand and supported by technological advances. AI and cars will be no different.
And once you stop driving your car, there are even broader implications. After monitoring its own status, your AI-enabled car might drive itself to the shop for scheduled maintenance. Since it was parked in the lot outside your office, it could do this while you are working, have the required procedures performed, and then return to your location. Without you. By itself.
We just might get to hear our grandchildren say, “You mean, you had to drive the car all by yourself, grandpa? That sounds just plain dangerous, not to mention inconvenient!”
As for me, I look forward to relaxing with a good book while my AI-powered autonomous electric-powered personal drone takes me to the beach.
For more information, please visit www.sensiblevision.com.