The automotive industry has long been a source of innovation, from the assembly line to automatic transmissions to airbags. For today’s auto manufacturers, incorporating artificial intelligence is essential to future success. AI in cars and other forms of transportation does not just mean self-driving cars, although this application may come to mind first. Auto manufacturers are also utilizing AI to enhance the user experience, efficiency, appearance and more.
The implementation of AI in the auto industry faces unprecedented challenges. Extreme startup costs, technological hurdles and the dangers of autonomous cars slowed progress in the past. Now, supply chains, workforces and investments have been disrupted by COVID-19 and resulting economic uncertainty. How is the industry adapting to these roadblocks?
Planning for Monetization
Some companies, including Mercedes-Benz, are developing AI with a strategy for return on investment in mind. Rather than partner with a technology company, Mercedes created its own infotainment system, which they call MBUX. The auto manufacturer imagines profiting from partnerships with third-party apps, such as Yelp and Apple Music, that drivers can use from MBUX.
Collaboration with Competitors
Other organizations are taking the opposite approach, instead sharing resources and costs with other similar companies. Take Ford and Volkswagen’s joint investment in Argo AI, which was first announced in 2019. Argo AI’s focus on local transportation via self-driving vehicles aims to make getting around cities easier for everyone who lives in them.
Volkswagen Group CEO Dr. Herbert Diess said of the partnership, which also includes other collaborative projects, “In light of the COVID-19 pandemic and its impacts on the global economy, more than ever it is vital to set up resilient alliances between strong companies. This collaboration will efficiently drive down development costs, allowing broader global distribution of electric and commercial vehicles, and enhance the positions of both companies.”
The AI that powers innovations in the automotive industry may also be utilized in other applications. Scale AI’s data powers autonomous driving research being done by companies like Toyota, Zoox and Lyft. The company’s AI capabilities are also used in retail and augmented reality technologies for clients such as Airbnb and Pinterest.
In 2019, Nuance Communications, a company known for its conversational AI used by healthcare, financial, and telecommunications organizations, spun off much of its transportation division into Cerence. Cerence powers automotive voice assistants and infotainment, including the “next-generation voice assistant” within the Audi Connect platform.