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The changing face of motoring: How AI will change transportation for good

(Image credit: Image Credit: Geralt / Pixabay)

The world of artificial intelligence is expanding at a rapid rate, and its massive potential is perhaps most clear in the automotive industry.

When we think of AI’s use in transportation (opens in new tab), we often cast our minds to self-driving cars and getting shuttled around in autonomous Ubers from location to location. But the possible applications of AI in vehicles extends way beyond simply becoming a backseat driver.

(Image credit: UN Geneva)

According to the United Nations’ Office at Geneva, AI is expanding in the transportation sector at a rapid rate. In fact, in terms of patent filings, artificial intelligence within transportation is growing at over four times the rate of that in life and medical sciences.

Though AI is being developed at a lightning pace within a range of industries, its potential advancements within motoring and transportation are particularly exciting for consumers.

With automotive artificial intelligence (opens in new tab)developing into something of a battle between car manufacturers bidding to utilize the technology first, there are already plenty of ambitious, life-enhancing, and off the wall AI applications emerging.

Although self-driving vehicles are widely regarded as a future staple, AI is still looking to exponentially improve the experience of owning and maintaining vehicles in a bid to enhance driver convenience. Let’s take a look at some of the various unexpected uses of artificial intelligence in the coming months and years:

Anticipatory maintenance

Artificial intelligence in the transportation industry really took off after the arrival of the Internet of Things technology. This allowed vehicles to become interconnected and provide rich levels of insight where more traditional cars, bikes and public transportation couldn’t match up.

In the vehicles of yesteryear, users could be shown alerts based around a low engine battery or lower levels of petrol among other indicators. While modern AI-infused vehicles (opens in new tab)can monitor hundreds of sensors and potentially even detect issues before they even begin to affect the performance of the vehicle.

By monitoring countless data points instantaneously, AI applications are capable of identifying minuscule changes that could lead to a future component failure. This could work wonders in terms of helping to prevent drivers from getting caught off-guard by a breakdown.

To better realize the vast potential of automotive AI, German manufacturer, Volkswagen announced a partnership with Microsoft with the intention of developing the car company into more of a digital-service business. The move would aid Volkswagen in discovering Azure IoT, PowerBI and Skype solutions in bringing out more technological competencies within the cars that they produce.

Specifically, Volkswagen is aiming to use its partnership with Microsoft to deliver valuable AI-based solutions in the cloud. This will include predictive maintenance and cloud-based software updates across their range of vehicles.

Intelligent grocery delivery

Autonomous vehicles have been a long-anticipated development since the arrival of the IoT, but AutoX’s focus (opens in new tab) towards driverless grocery deliveries hasn’t carried the same level of anticipation.

The San Jose company specializes in the more retail-based applications of self-driving vehicles. Focusing on a safety-oriented AI software, sensors, real-time cameras and extensive testing, AutoX is aiming to create a service where users can pick grocery items on a dedicated app, and arrange for them to be delivered without the need of any human help in the store-to-door process.

Users can even browse their delivery vehicle’s inventory for further purchases once they receive their items - a great opportunity for retailers to bolster sales of certain goods.

While the concept of autonomous grocery deliveries seems like some years away from becoming a reality, AutoX has already begun a pilot program in California - testing the service within a geofenced area that plans to steadily expand over time.

(Image credit: Business wire)

One of the largest developments in AI on roads across the world will heavily depend on the successful introduction of autonomous vehicles for users to buy.

As the chart above indicates, sales in the mid-2020s are expected to rapidly increase in Asia, with North and South America largely embracing the technology in the 2030s.

Insurance claims from home

Artificial intelligence can act as a significant help to the paperwork that’s designed to keep us safely on the road, too. Both insurance and AI work (opens in new tab)in the field of making educated predictions for the future, and the growing technology can pay dividends for motorists and insurance companies alike when it comes to conducting indiscriminate risk assessments.

AI can handily speed up the process of making insurance claims for customers when accidents occur. Such is the proficiency of artificial intelligence within insurance that big data appears set to entirely level the playing field for drivers - regardless of their age, gender and location - by creating personal risk profiles based on a range of factors.

These risk profiles (opens in new tab)can take innumerable factors into account that extend way beyond the confines of a user’s driving history. These other factors that may not be obvious to the human eye will have the power to calculate approximately how safe a driver is likely to be on an individual level.

Factors like underlying health issues, to a recent divorce, to location history, AI can find a wealth of information pertaining to a driver and conduct an on-the-spot comprehensive assessment of their driving safety. This works on a similar principle to the reliability index (opens in new tab)but focused more on the person behind the wheel as opposed to the car itself. These variable issues wouldn’t show up on an individual’s driving history, because they could be fairly recent occurrences, but the AI could correctly identify them as potential safety factors and recalculate premiums instantaneously.

Fundamentally, the arrival of AI should ensure that driving becomes more cost-effective for drivers. Autonomous vehicles will prompt an overhaul of how insurance is set up and increased levels of safety from anticipatory maintenance alerts and better insurance risk profiles will likely bring costs down. While road tax on electric cars is free in the UK (opens in new tab), opening the door to even lower expenses associated with electric self-driving cars in the future.

While fully IoT-infused vehicles may not be quite ready to hit the roads yet, there’s plenty of evidence that the increased adoption of AI by manufacturers will steadily enhance road safety while mitigating some of the heftier costs associated with driving. It seems that autonomous grocery deliveries may only just be the start of things to come.

David Griffiths, content marketing consultant, Assertive Media (opens in new tab)

David Griffiths, CEO at FISCAL Technologies.