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Looking around in 2017, it’s hard to find an industry that hasn’t been affected by the rise of artificial intelligence (AI). From manufacturing to health care to finance, AI is everywhere — and according to experts, its presence is only going to increase from here on out.

The auto industry is also at the forefront of AI integration. AI can help streamline transportation and reduce costs.  Let’s look at some of the ways the industry is utilizing AI.

1. Driver assistance

One way AI is being used in cars is to help drivers. Functions like automatic parking assist and collision avoidance are major features in new cars. That latter feature is especially useful — it has the potential to reduce the severity of accidents. As a result, most major manufacturers now include some form of it in their vehicles. In passive applications it takes the form of chimes to alert drivers of nearby objects; in more active forms these programs can automatically engage car brakes, decreasing the force of impact.

2. Cloud-based assistants

Another example of smart AI use in the auto industry is cloud-based personal assistants. These systems are like the assistants built into smartphones. Using your location, a database of local businesses, and info fed to them from the car, they can do things like direct you to a nearby gas station when your fuel is running low or offer shopping list reminders when you drive near a grocery store. A noteworthy example of a system under development is the partnership between GM’s OnStar system and IBM’s Watson supercomputer.


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3. Improved ride-sharing services

Ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft are growing in popularity, especially with younger generations. Many people are forgoing personal cars entirely and depending on these services to get them around. As a result, these companies are looking for ways to enhance their offerings, and AI is playing a big role. Uber, for instance, recently acquired Geometric Intelligence to help it better integrate artificial intelligence into the platform to increase overall service efficiency.

4. Self-driving vehicles

No discussion of cars and AI would be complete without mentioning self-driving cars. While the concept still has a vague air of science fiction about it, it is most certainly real — and likely happening sooner than you think. The idea behind self-driving cars is to take human error, including fatigue and distraction, out of the equation. Several major players have thrown their hats into this ring, including Google and Tesla.

  • Google — Google’s self-driving program, Waymo, has been in development since 2009. The program has racked up “the equivalent of 300 years of human driving experience” on real city streets, as well as billions of simulated miles. The program has been a great success so far, and the company hopes to eventually release the technology worldwide.
  • Tesla — Luxury electric car maker Tesla also has a successful self-driving program. The system, known as Autopilot, is included with every new Tesla. Autopilot operates using eight cameras, 12 ultrasonic sensors, forward-facing radar, and a powerful computer to process all the information. The system helps the car match speed with surrounding traffic, find spots and park automatically, change lanes in traffic, and more. The company claims that the probability of safety using Autopilot is at least twice as good as with a human driver.

Above: VB Profiles Connected Cars Landscape. (Disclosure: VB Profiles is a cooperative effort between VentureBeat and Spoke Intelligence.) This article is part of our connected cars series. You can download a high-resolution version of the landscape featuring 250 companies by clicking the image.

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