The development of artificial intelligence (AI) is impacting countless sectors, and the automotive industry is no exception. More and more, manufacturers are choosing to integrate AI-powered features in new vehicles, as this technology can offer substantial benefits – such as enhanced vehicle performance and efficiency, improved vehicle safety and collision reduction, and an overall better experience for both passengers and drivers. Alongside these advantages are significant challenges and ethical questions, adding complexity to the conversation and requiring strong consideration.
Understanding AI In The Automotive Industry
When AI and cars are brought up together, the first thing that typically comes to mind is the technology of the future – the development of fully autonomous, self-driving vehicles. However, AI has already impacted the automotive industry and is used in various ways. New cars aren’t what they used to be – they’re typically much more than simply a means of transportation. They often include multiple features to make the driving experience safer, easier, and more enjoyable.
Both automotive and tech companies are working on expanding the application of AI in the automotive industry, intending to create more robust and higher-quality technology and seeking out possible new applications. Here, we’ve outlined a few ways that AI is already being used in vehicles today and both the benefits and challenges of this new frontier of cars.
Enhanced Safety And Advanced Driver Assistance Systems
One of the major applications of AI in vehicles is to improve the safety – of drivers, passengers, pedestrians, and anyone else on the road. This is often done through Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS), where AI is integrated into vehicles to help detect pedestrians, monitor blind spots, and more, with the ultimate goal of avoiding potential collisions and improving road safety for all.
ADAS works by leveraging a combination of cameras, sensors, and AI-powered algorithms to analyze relevant data to warn drivers of potential hazards in real-time and, in some cases, to make instant decisions that potentially improve safety. 
AI has had a critical role in the development of ADAS, including through features like adaptive cruise control, which works by automatically adjusting driving speed to keep a safe distance from other vehicles, helping to prevent potential collisions. Other examples include automatic emergency braking to avoid a potential collision and a lane-keeping assist system, where drivers are either alerted that they’re going outside their lane or the steering is slightly shifted to help keep drivers in their lane.
Another advanced feature available with ADAS is driver monitoring systems. These use AI to identify drowsiness or lack of alertness in drivers, typically through an infrared driver-facing camera. If the system determines that the driver isn’t sufficiently alert, it will warn the driver through a sound or text warning that advises the driver to pull over and rest. Some AI driver monitoring also features facial recognition and the ability to identify different drivers and their preferences.
While also designed to assist in normal road conditions, ADAS systems are intended to be especially helpful during poor road conditions and identifying cars and other pedestrians when it’s challenging for drivers too – such as in blind spots, in low light conditions, busy and high traffic conditions, and more. Road safety is one of the primary applications of AI in automotive technology, with ADAS and AI-powered features envisioned to help prevent collisions and other road accidents.
AI-Powered Infotainment Systems
Many new vehicles feature infotainment systems – typically a touchscreen interface that offers features like music, navigation, phone calls, and more. AI is also used in infotainment systems to predict and recommend content, helping to make the driving experience more convenient, efficient, and pleasant. Through AI, an infotainment system can learn a driver’s preference for specific driving conditions, such as climate control, music, seat position, and more, and automatically adjust the vehicle to suit these preferences.
Infotainment systems also can feature AI-powered in-car assistance that’s trained to recognize and process driver language through natural language processing and machine learning. This can allow drivers to make changes and control their driving environment without taking their hands off the wheel. AI is used in infotainment to make the systems more convenient and personalized for drivers and passengers.
AI also plays a role in predicting and preventing potential vehicle maintenance issues. Imagine having your car let you know something is about to break or that a part needs service before it happens. Predicting maintenance issues can allow for a safer driving experience, prevent breakdowns, and also help to improve the maintenance experience for car owners. Once potential problems are identified, drivers are notified, and AI also has the potential to assist with scheduling the relevant maintenance and suggesting possible options. AI analyzes sensor data to find potential problems before they become critical. 
Ai In Navigation And Routing
AI-powered navigation systems use real-time data to make the driving experience more straightforward and manageable. These navigation systems help by suggesting optimal routes, traffic updates, and suggestions for nearby services. These suggestions are dynamic and subject to change based on traffic changes, construction, and more.
AI helps with navigation and suggesting routes by considering real-time sources, like traffic cameras, GPS, road quality, and more. Beyond real-time sources, historical data is also considered – AI makes suggestions based on past traffic trends to estimate how long trips could take and the optimal route. AI can also offer personalized recommendations for nearby locations based on the driver’s preferences, such as suggested restaurants, gas stations, and more.  The goal is to make the navigation process more convenient for drivers, allowing them to travel efficiently and effectively.
Challenges And Ethical Considerations
While AI presents potential benefits, there are also significant challenges associated with AI in different industries, including the automotive industry. Many of these challenges surround data privacy and security, similar to other industries and sectors. AI relies on user data to function, and often, users aren’t aware of exactly how their data is being used and stored. This needs to be communicated to drivers and AI-powered technology to be protected by cybersecurity solutions to help protect user privacy and data security.
Regarding AI in the automotive industry, AI development and usage need to be responsible, considerate, and mindful. Accuracy is essential when the safety of drivers, passengers, and other road users is at stake, as well as ensuring that they’re free of biases and prejudices that could impact decisions. When collisions occur, AI can present complex potential situations in terms of determining fault and other considerations.
As such, it’s essential that challenges are carefully and thoughtfully addressed and ethical considerations are considered at each stage to help ensure the most high-quality AI-powered tech. AI in automotive technology presents numerous deeply complex scenarios, and these must be considered at each step, from research and development to testing to revisions post-launch and more.
Today, AI plays a central role in the automotive world and is shaping the future of automotive technology. As we look ahead to a potential future of autonomous vehicles, tech-powered features already exist in new vehicles to help improve safety and convenience in new car models. These current tech-enabled systems are expected to grow and improve even more, with potential future tech-powered vehicles including features like emotional recognition and vehicle-to-vehicle communication.
AI presents an entire set of new opportunities to the automotive industry, with plenty of improvements and solutions currently in development by automotive and technology companies alike. AI has already significantly impacted the automotive sector and has a solid potential to transform it and shape the future of tech across the transportation sector.
 Artificial Intelligence in Cars: Examples of AI in the Auto Industry | Built In
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