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AI and the Transformation of the Autonomous Vehicle Industry

Autonomous vehicles are advancing in their efforts to enter the mainstream market. From taxis to auto racing and deliveries, artificial intelligence (AI) is aiding autonomous vehicles through advancements in material science, vision systems, and robotics.

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AI Software Being Used for Autonomous Vehicles in Auto Racing

AI software is appearing in some self-driving vehicles intended for international racing. Trimble, for instance, “provides on-road and off-road vehicle manufacturers the technology and engineering expertise necessary to support and augment their driverless vehicle development and production programs.

“Customizable navigation enables the vehicle through advanced integration and engineering services, field-tested hardware and proprietary software for highly accurate positioning. The vehicle’s autonomy is enabled through AI technology which provides highly accurate assessments of the full 360-degree environment around a vehicle to produce a robust representation, including static and dynamic objects.”

AI and Self-Driving Vehicle Testing in UK Rural Locations

AI is also being found in autonomous vehicles used in rural locations. According to the website Inside Autonomous Vehicles, a consortium called HumanDrive used vehicles to complete a 230-mile autonomous journey across the United Kingdom. The journey included the navigation of unique driving situations like complex traffic circles, high-speed country lanes with no road markings, and streets with no curb or pull-over options.

Inside Autonomous Vehicles also said that the test vehicles “included Nissan Leafs, featuring GPS, radar, and LiDAR to re-create the environment around the vehicle. Camera technologies can make decisions about how to navigate roads and obstacles it encounters on a journey.”

AI in Hybrid and Electric Autonomous Vehicles

AI technology is prevalent in hybrid and electric cars as well. According to Inside Autonomous Vehicles, Sony’s “VISION-S prototype electric vehicle will include advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS) and automated driving systems developed by AImotive, the most-funded automated driving technology company in Europe.”

The self-driving vehicle software includes partial automation, automatic steering, acceleration and braking in limited situations. In addition, advanced GIS map databases help these vehicles to stay in the center of a driving lane, even in areas with poor or absent lane marks.

Self-Driving Vehicles Are Entering the Market, Thanks to AI

So when will we see these new technologies in commercial vehicles? Well, luxury cars offer hands-off driving features, which is a step in this new AI technology’s direction.

Inside Autonomous Vehicles recently noted that “Microsoft is partnering with General Motors and Cruise to accelerate the commercialization of self-driving vehicles…Founded in 2013, San Francisco-based Cruise was acquired by General Motors in 2016. In December, Cruise revealed it had started testing driverless cars without safety drivers in San Francisco, two months after it received California’s permission to operate fully driverless cars in the state.”

China Plans to Allow Driverless Car Tests on Highways

In the near future, Inside Autonomous Vehicles says that “China plans to allow driverless car tests on its highways, according to draft guidelines from the nation’s top industry regulator…China has opened 2,000 kilometers of public roads for testing of smart Internet-connected vehicles…China has also issued more than 400 licenses to companies for self-driving tests, with the total road test mileage exceeding 2 million kilometers, according to the China News Service, a state-level news agency…However, currently no national regulations allow autonomous vehicles (AVs) to be tested on Chinese highways, it noted.”

At this rate, China will likely emerge as the world’s largest market for autonomous vehicles. According to McKinsey, mass adoption of highly autonomous vehicles in China will likely start in 2027.

Inside Autonomous Vehicles says that “Search-engine firm Baidu Inc will conduct road tests for five fully driverless vehicles in China’s capital. These tests will gradually reduce human intervention and eventually remove in-car safety drivers from the autonomous vehicle tests.

According to Beijing, safety requirements for driverless testing permits, vehicles must have completed more than 30,000 kilometers of safe test driving on open roads and passed an evaluation on a closed track. Baidu opened Apollo Go Robotaxi to the public in Beijing in October.

Each of the driverless taxis has a backup driver, who is ready to take manual control in an emergency. China plans to start scale production of vehicles capable of conditional autonomous driving and commercialization of highly autonomous vehicles in defined conditions by 2025.”

AI technology will be a force multiplier when it comes to advances in driverless technology. As autonomous driving is commercialized, different types of autonomous vehicles — such as hybrid, electric and standard vehicles — will see more advancements, thanks to AI technology.

In just 25 years, a quantum leap in advances have been observed from producing more energy-efficient vehicles and more intelligent systems to make transportation safer. The possibilities are endless and only limited by today’s minds of how AI can be integrated into society, our economy, and our future modes of transportation.

Dr. Kandis Y. Boyd Wyatt, CLTD, PMP, is a professor in the School of Business and has over 25 years of experience managing projects that specialize in project management and supply chain management. A global speaker and STEM advocate, she obtained a B.S. in meteorology and an M.S. in meteorology and water resources from Iowa State University, as well as a D.P.A. in public administration from Nova Southeastern University.

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