Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Autonomous Vehicles

Jude Chukwudozie
Artificial Intelligence and Autonomous Vehicles
Illustration: © IoT For All

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is the ability of a digital computer or computer-controlled robot to perform tasks commonly associated with intelligent beings. It involves the development of systems endowed with human intellectual characteristics, such as the ability to reason. In our 21st-century world, digital technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) have taken center stage and are blazing the trail by changing the traditional way of doing business. Today with the aid of neural networks and intelligent algorithms, AI technology is replacing human thinking ability with machine control and is doing so with greater accuracy and precision, a development that was thought impossible a few years back. Let’s take a look at the role of AI and autonomous vehicles and how this technology will shape the future.

Autonomous Vehicle Benefits

The American computer scientist Eliezer Yudkowsky argues that by far the greatest danger about artificial intelligence is that people conclude too early that they understand it. In truth, most people don’t. For the record, AI and cars have a mutual history, and it was the dream of scientists to create intelligent machines that could think and act for themselves which gave birth to autonomous vehicles, or self-driving cars, which have turned out to become one of the best innovations of AI technology. Let’s dive into some of the benefits of these vehicles.

#1: Detection Algorithms

Autonomous vehicles have neural networks and specific algorithms. These are Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Language (ML) based object detection algorithms. These serve to collect data, analyze objects, and make accurate decisions while on the road. These features also enable these intelligent machines to provide solutions to problems occurring in advance of real time by predicting events through the swift processing of data.

For example, autonomous vehicles can predict a potential threat like a car collision ahead or behind and take a decision in real time to avert it. With good data collection sensors, these pieces of information are processed and results are obtained as actions. In addition to the neural network and specific algorithms, self-driving cars have five core components that help them optimize operation in real time, namely: computer vision, sensor fusion, localization, path planning, and control. They also have an enhanced degree of AI perception technology for detecting pedestrians, vehicles, cyclists, and work and obstacles that are 300 yards away. These embedded algorithms help these automobiles to determine and suggest alternative routes based on real-time traffic conditions. Indeed, an amazing technology.

#2: Autopilots

Quite recently, Tesla manufactured electric cars that are self-driving and equipped with autopilots to enable automatic steering, accelerating braking, lane changing, and parking actions. Added to these features is the fact that these cars have the potential to reduce emissions globally, a milestone achievement from fuel-driven vehicles. Today, autonomous vehicles can be found in some of the biggest cities of the world. Even heavy-duty trucks without drivers that can deliver goods over long distances have been manufactured. This has not only reduced transportation costs significantly but also reduced the loss of human lives through accidents, much of which arise from human errors.

#3: AI-enhanced Features

In recent times, some automotive companies have manufactured autonomous vehicles with enhanced AI features like personal AI assistants, radar detectors, and cameras, all of which serve to prioritize security among other functions. These self-driving cars have implemented AI-enhanced features which are a huge advancement over their predecessors. Self-driving can learn about traits exhibited by the driver like driving speed, preferred car temperature, driving mood, observance of traffic signs, regular songs, or favorite radio stations. By rating driving skills, these autonomous vehicles have helped to change bad driving behaviors and habits.

Autonomous Vehicle Drawbacks

Though one of the most anticipated technologies in this century, AI and autonomous vehicles have been associated with a number of problems:

  • Autonomous vehicles are limited to more narrow situations and clearer weather. Just like the human eyes, sensors do not do well in fog, rain, or snow.
  • Autonomous vehicles rely on maps and sensors to function effectively. Unfortunately, these maps have limited test areas at the moment. Creating and maintaining maps for self-driving cars is a difficult and time-intensive process and one that is yet to happen. Its test areas will also need to be increased. In the U.S. for instance, detailed maps would have to be built and maintained across the 4 million miles of public road and this is no small task.
  • Tesla’s self-driving cars have raised certain safety concerns. In a certain L.A. Times editorial, they are said to be, “crossing double yellow lines and heading toward oncoming traffic, failing to stop for cars crossing the street and steering toward metal posts and roadside boulders.”
  • Autonomous vehicles controlled by AI robots cannot engage in complex social interactions with other drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians. These situations require generalized intelligence and common sense to navigate, qualities that robots do not possess at the moment.
  • Tesla’s autopilot has a problem detecting flashing lights, road cones put in place for temporary road and traffic maintenance, and most emergency vehicles traveling in the opposite direction. Again, most of the crashes happen in the dark which points to an apparent flaw in the autopilot technology.
  • The working mechanism of smarter and more connected autonomous vehicles can suffer from cyber attacks which would disrupt their systems and operational processes. When this happens, commuter stress, delayed traffic flow, collisions, accidents, and even loss of human lives become inevitable.
  • Tesla’s advanced driver assistance system (ADAS), otherwise known as autopilot, accounts for a number of crashes and fatalities in the U.S. In most cases, it has been found to shut off around one second before the crash.

Path to the Future

In the crypto world, blockchain technology makes use of mathematical logic and algorithm to create an autonomous system that is both transparent and immutable. Here in the automotive world, it is expected that the combination of blockchain technology and self-driving cars will create a far better autonomous system that would increase the transparency and accuracy of decisions made by these cars.

Car tech giants are working hard to implement natural conversational AI within vehicles, which will utilize speech recognition, natural language understanding, speech synthesis, and smart avatars to boost comprehension of context, emotion, complex sentences, and user preferences. In the future, AI will be engaged in improving vehicle safety, performance, and efficiency, addressing health hazards and environmental issues. It could also be used to create cars that can communicate with each other and with other road users.

Jude Chukwudozie
Jude Chukwudozie - Technical Writer, Judie Clairelo
I have a degree in Philosophy from the University of Ibadan and a another degree in Electrical Engineering from Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, all from Nigeria. I love writing educative articles.
I have a degree in Philosophy from the University of Ibadan and a another degree in Electrical Engineering from Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, all from Nigeria. I love writing educative articles.