How AI is used in EVs

Artificial Intelligence (AI) particularly ‘Generative AI’ escalated rapidly last year, as we all suddenly realized that the tech had advanced far more significantly, and at a much greater pace, than had previously been thought. But apart from trying to fool it into incriminating itself by admitting it wants to ‘kill all humans’; or asking it to create yet more images of cats being cute; and using it to help you cheat on your exams, is it much use for anything else?

Well yes, actually. Lots of things. AI’s lightning-fast ability to assimilate and analyze huge volumes of data, before pumping out workable solutions or strategies to tackle previously insurmountable problems, is causing a seismic shift in the machinations of industry and business planning.

It’s already being employed and deployed in various manifestations, from speeding up medical research and making manufacturing faster, to detecting callers lying to financial and insurance companies on the phone.

Unsurprisingly car manufacturers are embracing it too, and 2024 is seeing not only its visible impact on the auto industry (with it shaking up the way you interact with your car) to leap-frogging research and development by years and even decades, as well as making assembly and delivery processes more streamlined and efficient.

BYD Invests $14bn in Smart Car Tech

Car companies are throwing vast amounts of investment into the field, such as Chinese giant BYD announcing a massive $14 billion investment into smart car technologies, highlighting a broader industry trend towards vehicles that are not only environmentally friendly but also increasingly intelligent and interactive.

BYD’s primary focus is on ADAS (Driver Assistance Systems) through its Integrated Vehicle Intelligence strategy, centered on the XUANJI Architecture which is designed to serve as the central nervous system of the vehicle – its ‘brain’ in effect.

This initiative aims to revolutionize driving by integrating advanced driver aids such as ‘Navigate on Autopilot,’ which allows for semi-autonomous driving, a further advance towards fully autonomous vehicles which now seem closer to reality than ever before.

BYD is using AI across many aspects of production and for improving the driver experience. The company is investing $14bn into smart car technologies.

The Strategic Importance of AI in EVs

AI’s presence is already being felt across the industry, but it’s particularly pertinent to electric vehicles (EV). For newer companies, this is an important opportunity to solidify a reputation for technological innovation and boundary-pushing, while for legacy car makers transitioning to electric, it represents a strategic imperative to remain competitive in a rapidly changing market.

As EVs become more mainstream, distinguishing offerings through enhanced features could be key to capturing market share, particularly among younger consumers who prioritize technology and connectivity in their vehicles. This demographic is also more willing to accept the car as a ‘smart device on wheels.’ In this context, vehicles are not just modes of transportation but platforms for continuous digital interaction and innovation.

AI-Integration into Your Motoring Experience

Already this year, Volkswagen has confirmed that it will be integrating Open AI’s ChatGPT Generative AI into its vehicles as standard. Other manufacturers are following suit. But before we get into that, it’s important to note that the industry remains cautious, recognising the need for robust ethical frameworks and ring-fencing direct car control to ensure that AI serves as a helpful, not overpowering, tool and cannot hijack your car, or open up routes for nefarious types to hack your vehicle systems.

As such Volkswagen will isolate ChatGPT from vehicle control and it will only be able to respond to information requests. So, you could ask it to find and set the navigation for a good restaurant, but it cannot operate the cruise control or drive you there. Not yet anyway.

Volkswagen has announced that it will be integrating ChatGPT into its IDA voice assistant from the second quarter of 2024.

Part of this strategy seems to be to infuse character, personality and even companionship into cars. Continental Tyres has partnered with Google Cloud to create an in-car companion AI that enables natural dialogue between the driver and the vehicle. This system could assist with tasks like adjusting tyre pressure or exploring points of interest along a route.

Similarly, Mercedes and BMW are integrating AI virtual assistants into their vehicles. BMW’s I Vision Dee concept car, for example, showcases the potential for vehicles to not just perform tasks but also relate emotionally, engaging drivers in a more meaningful way.

This approach is akin to the cultural embrace of AI seen in Japan, where there is a broader acceptance of technology as an integral part of life. As such Japanese and Korean automakers, like Toyota and Hyundai, are pushing forward with AI research, focusing on enhancing safety, efficiency, and the overall user experience.

BMW’s I Vision Dee concept car.  The name “Dee” stands for Digital Emotional Experience – and that is precisely its aim: to create an even stronger bond between people and their cars going forward using technology.

AI Will Redefine Our Relationship with Cars

From planning a route, taking over driving duties when you want it to, updating your social media, acting as a tour guide on your travels, to ordering your takeaway in time to meet you when you get home; AI integration into our cars, both EVs and conventional, is being tailored to ensure a newfound acceptance, appreciation and allegiance with our cars. The latter being important for manufacturers as a device to create brand loyalty and ensure repeat customers.

AI could result in a transformative shift in how we perceive and interact with our cars. This change is partly driven by a desire to recapture the engagement that many feel has been lost in modern car design. It’s a shift from seeing them as mere tools for transportation to viewing them as intelligent partners capable of understanding and responding to our needs.

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