While fully autonomous cars are still some way off, artificial intelligence (AI) is making its way into many other aspects of vehicle tech.
In a recent article for TechCrunch, Jeff Peters, a principal at Autotech Ventures, looked at some of the AI-based technologies that are either in development or already available in selected models.
For instance, cameras inside the cabin can help prevent accidents by monitoring drivers to detect inebriation, distraction, drowsiness and fatigue and alerting the driver. In commercial vehicle fleets, AI cameras together with advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) and coaching have been shown to significantly reduce insurance costs.
Such technology is now widely deployed in commercial vehicles and trucks and is now starting to cross over into personal vehicles. In this sector, as well as improving safety on the road, AI cameras can identify when children and pets are left in the vehicle to prevent heat-related deaths.
In other uses of AI technology, computer vision and sensor fusion can detect whether seat belts are fastened and estimate body size to calibrate airbag deployment in the event of a crash, Peters said.
AI can also improve the journey, with gesture recognition and natural language processing making it easier for drivers and passengers to adjust driving settings, navigate, and control the stereo.
Under the bonnet, AI and machine learning can help diagnose and even predict mechanical issues.
And when combined with vision systems (e.g. cameras, radar, lidar), the technology can be used to create high-definition maps that could then be used for locating vehicles, identifying road locations and facades of addresses to supplement in-dash navigation systems, monitoring traffic and pedestrian movements and monitoring crime.
“Your next car will likely have several embedded AI features, even if it doesn’t drive itself,” Peters concluded.