Artificial intelligence (AI) is still in its initial stages but it’s already having a huge effect on our daily lives and will greatly influence the driving experience, writes Andrew Till, vice president of Technology, Partnerships & New Solutions, Connected Services Division, HARMAN International.

AI is starting to shape our day-to-day tasks and routines. In the home, the introduction of virtual personal assistants such as Alexa and Cortana are making mundane tasks easier, while online chatbots use rudimentary AI to provide basic customer support quickly. In the workplace,the ability to rapidly process data means AI is acting as a labour-saving tool but has the potential to replace jobs, which is leading to it being viewed as both positive and negative progress.

As usage increases, AI will impact all areas of our lives. These machines will learn from us and – just like humans – will become smarter and specialise in certain tasks, understanding our needs and responding proactively based on repeated actions. We can already see this in the way Cortana anticipates our requirements and Alexa predicts home thermostat preferences. It’s through this observing, learning and understanding that AI will impact our driving experience.

According to research by Gartner, there will be 20.4 billion connected devices by 2020. Of these, 60 million cars will be sold with next-generation connectivity, with the cumulative number of next-generation internet-connected cars to be 220 million over the next four years.

Avoiding distractions

These connected cars will generate huge quantities of data: around 25Gb of data could be sent from the car every day. Within this environment, AI will process the data and help the car to take stressful actions away from the driver to avoid distraction and information overload. This will optimise the driving experience in terms of safety, convenience and comfort.

Imagine saying ‘Take me to the office’ and your car recognises who you are and takes you to your office, not your partner’s. Or that it takes itself to a fuel station when it knows that it can’t complete a journey on the current tank or charge level. You’ll get your desired outcome quicker and with less effort.

Andrew Till

AI will also understand context, responding to factors like weather, traffic or destination and drive accordingly. It can decide a different route would be more suited and will let whoever you’re meeting that you’ll be a few minutes late. When connected to devices at home, your car could even swing by the shops as your fridge has told it you need milk. And it will do it on your way home from work, knowing not to do this when you’re on your way into the office.

Context will make AI more meaningful and more personal, too. The car remembers your choices and uses that knowledge to deal with similar situations and provide recommendations. Crucially, AI will continue to learn and still give you the option to change your mind.

Currently, consumer perception of AI is somewhat fearful, but as AI makes driving and life easier and less stressful, the paranoia will disappear and AI will become an integral part of our daily commutes.

The author of this blog is Andrew Till, vice president of Technology, Partnerships & New Solutions, Connected Services Division, HARMAN International

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