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"Smart" Transportation: Artificial Intelligence and Automobiles

Updated on April 17, 2019
drmiddlebrook profile image

Former university professor of marketing and communications, is an independent publisher and marketing/communications consultant.

Modified Nissan Leaf used for research by the Mobile Robotics Group, Oxford Robotics Institute. Shown on the streets of Oxford, United Kingdom, the robot car has sensors that include radar, LIDAR, and cameras.
Modified Nissan Leaf used for research by the Mobile Robotics Group, Oxford Robotics Institute. Shown on the streets of Oxford, United Kingdom, the robot car has sensors that include radar, LIDAR, and cameras. | Source

In recent years, the combining of artificial intelligence and machine learning (a subset of AI) technologies has been used to begin bringing solutions to some of the greatest challenges (and some of the “futuristic dreams”) of engineers and innovators in the transportation industry. A broad array of solutions are now part of a growing trend within the industry, from providing answers to problems in automobile manufacturing, to injecting innovative transport ideas into the commercial side of the industry. These ideas help auto makers and other companies achieve business goals as they struggle to remain competitive while meeting various needs of the industry and customers.

For the past six months, I've been performing editing and proofreading work for an international software company's marketing and sales organization, and my work has heightened my awareness of and interest in how artificial intelligence and machine learning is being used to transform the transportation industry. This Hub contains the results of research I conducted online to enhance/increase my own knowledge on this topic.

Self-Driving Car Yandex Taxi, Las-Vegas, Nevada (January 7, 2019)
Self-Driving Car Yandex Taxi, Las-Vegas, Nevada (January 7, 2019) | Source

Hi-tech Trends in the Transportation Industry

Taking a brief look at the transportation industry requires examination of a variety of media—including cars, highways, roads, airplanes, airport runways, trains, railways, boats, and waterways. When it comes to AI and machine learning, research reveals there are current, planned, and upcoming applications for a variety of products addressing problems facing each of the previously mentioned modes of transport. In fact, many transportation industry analysts are predicting growth in the use of technological trends that utilize advances in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning. In areas such as automotive manufacturing and cloud services, some industry watchers expect that, by 2024, the value of these technologies to the industry will exceed $10.73 billion.1

To begin this discussion, this Hub provides a brief look at 25 transportation or transport-related products featuring AI and machine learning innovative technologies. Next, the discussion will examine, briefly, developments related to self-driving automobile software (the technology required to create self-driving vehicles). Finally, I will take a brief look at auto manufacturers and other companies that either have introduced, or will soon introduce, self-driving vehicles targeting consumer markets. I have also included in this Hub a listing of 25 AI transportation-related products and services (found in an article by Saoirse Kerriganon, on the website interesting engineering.com, titled, The 25 Ways AI Can Revolutionize Transportation: From Driverless Trains to Smart Tracks).

1-10 of 25: AI Transportation-Related Products

 
 
 
TECHNOLOGY
ON THE MARKET OR EXPECTED?
COMMENTS
1. Autonomous cars
Perhaps 2021
Vehicles designed/marketed to consumers
2. Self-driving city-use trucks
No prediction found
Trash collection, snow plows, freight
3. Driverless/autonomous buses
On the market in Europe currently. Not sure of prediction for U.S.
Passenger bus with sensors, cameras, GPS
4. Electric/self-driving shuttle
Currently on the market in U.S., expanding to Central Europe.
Local Motors' Olli, at Joint-Base, in Washington, D.C.
5. AI traffic management
In progress, 2019, Singapore and China
Product will find best driving routes, end traffic jams
6. AI traffic-control system
On the market in some U.S. urban areas
SURTRAC, by Rapid Flow technologies
7. Self-driving long-haul trucks
Expected in U.S. in 2020 or 2021
TuSimple, start-up, raised $95 million to expand
8. Self-flying air taxis/delivery
On market in Dubai as of 2017. Boeing testing in U.S. 2019
Products used as delivery systems
9. Autonomous cargo ships
Rolls-Royce to launch by 2020
Remote-controlled cargo ships
10. Driverless/autonomous trains
Tested in London, 2018. China to roll out by 2020
Trains that can carry more riders because there is no driver's cab, hence, more space
 
 
 

The number and variety of existing products and upcoming plans provides all the evidence needed to confirm expectations and/or predictions for further growth of trends utilizing AI and machine learning in the transportation industry. The website, interestingengineering.com, published an article in early 2018 titled The 25 Ways AI Can Revolutionize Transportation: From Driverless Trains to Smart Tracks.

The author of the article, Saoirse Kerrigan, shared 25 products utilizing AI or machine learning, after stating, “. . . it won’t be long until our transport industries are dominated by AI.”2 Tables 1, 2, and 3, in this Hub, present each of the 25 products from Kerrigan’s article, specifying whether each product is on the market or when it is might be expected. I have added comments based on either Kerrigan's article or other research, to provide a bit more information about each product.

Easymile autonomous bus in Bad Birnbach, a municipality in the district of Rottal-Inn, Bavaria, Germany (January 10, 2018).
Easymile autonomous bus in Bad Birnbach, a municipality in the district of Rottal-Inn, Bavaria, Germany (January 10, 2018). | Source

11-20 of 25 AI Transportation-Related Products

 
 
 
TECHNOLOGY
ON THE MARKET OR EXPECTED?
COMMENTS
11. Bio-chip tickets
Not found on market in 2019, but has been tested in Sweden
Micro-chip implanted public transit card.
12. Smart trains/virtual tracks
On the market in Zhuzhou, China, 2017
Autonomous rail that does not require tracks.
13. Driverless delivery trucks
Ford to roll out by 2021
Food, package, and postal-mail delivery
14. Digital number plates
Not sure if on market but was tested in Dubai and U.S., in 2018.
Allows GPS tracking, auto-pay traffic fines.
15. Airport face-scanning
On the market in U.S., perhaps also China and Dubai
Used to confirm identity of travelers
16. ML flight-delay predicting
Currently in use. Google uses machine learning to predict delays
Provides expected flight time from previous flight data.
17. Trainline app.
Currently in use through BusyBot Technology
Finds empty passenger seats in real time, predicts prices
18. Pilotless planes
No incidences of testing found/mentioned
Pilotless technology with manual override
19. JOZU app for women
In use since 2015
Travel platform/algorithm that maker says "Thinks like a woman" to plan safe travel
20. Smart highways
China already has one, Australia has plans for a smart highway
Variety of features, including ability to charge electric vehicles while driving
 
 
 

Autonomous Bus in Bad Birnbach, Germany

Growth of Self-Driving Vehicle Software and Technologies

A recent Forbes.com article by David Silver, leader of the Self-Driving Car Engineer Nanodegree Program at Udacity, presented information on five companies working to develop self-driving autonomous vehicle software and training machine learning models, software that is the “driving force” behind self-driving automobiles.

AutonomousStuff is one such company. It is devoted to developing robotics and data integration technologies, and software companies, including Baidu and NVIDIA, used AutonomousStuff platforms to develop their self-driving car programs. AutonomousStuff has conducted pilot programs for its platforms worldwide with more than 2500 clients in the U.S., Europe, and Asia, in the automotive and technology sectors.3

According to the Forbes.com article, Dataspeed (founded in 2008) works to transform automotive, mobility, and industrial industries using drive-by-wire autonomous vehicle (AV) technology. More than 450 AV test vehicles are on the road today that are equipped with Dataspeed technology. Another source revealed that Dataspeed’s Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) kit enables “seamless control over a vehicle’s throttle, brake, steering and shifting.”4 Manufacturers utilizing Dataspeed’s autonomous test vehicle platforms include: Ford Fusion, Lincoln MKZ, Chrysler Pacifica, Jeep Grand Cherokee, and Ford F150.

Test of driverless shuttle buses at Frankfurt / Main airport (October 24, 2017).
Test of driverless shuttle buses at Frankfurt / Main airport (October 24, 2017). | Source

Founded in 2012, Polysync Technologies, another company developing this type of software, is the creator of DriveKit. An Open Source car control system, DriveKit has a control interface that enables advanced testing and development of self-driving vehicles. It is the software used by Kia to connect its Niro and Soul vehicles to PolySync’s Open Source Car Control software.3

Yet another developer of autonomous vehicle software is Tier IV, a start-up based in Japan. The company has raised nearly $30 million in its efforts to become a formidable player as a developer of autonomous vehicle software platforms. Some see it as already having attained the status of “major player” in this market because of its affiliation/support of Autoware, one of the industry’s first “all-in-one” open-source applications. Its early entry into the market has made it the platform of choice for many of the early position in the market, many more mature self-driving car teams have used it as their starting point.5

 FCC Commissioner Michael O'Rielly standing next to Google's self-driving car ( April 28, 2014); now Waymo (Alphabet), began as the Google Self-Driving Car Project in 2009.
FCC Commissioner Michael O'Rielly standing next to Google's self-driving car ( April 28, 2014); now Waymo (Alphabet), began as the Google Self-Driving Car Project in 2009. | Source

21-25 of 25 AI Transportation-Related Products

 
 
 
 
 
 
TECHNOLOGY
ON THE MARKET OR EXPECTED?
COMMENTS
21. Smart luggage
Currently available through numerous manufacturers/brands
GPS tracking and weighing of baggage
22. Robot police cars
Not on market, but Ford planned to file for a patent in 2018
Unmanned, issues tickets by scanning registration.
 
 
 
23. Driver-assist autonomous cars
On the market; recent and upcoming cars feature AI vehicle assistance
Variety of benefits, including ability to help inexperienced drivers; uses sensors
24. "Transport friendly" city
Not on market in 2019, but Ford has design plans for cities that will work with AI-assisted cars/trucks
Design of city will help cut down on risks of collisions/accidents
25. AI ride-hailing taxi app
Not on market, but Sony has plans to launch in Japan
Uses AI to manage taxi fleet and routes
Shown above are three AImotive test vehicles, including (from left) a Citroen C4 Picasso, a Volvo XC90 and a Toyota Prius.
Shown above are three AImotive test vehicles, including (from left) a Citroen C4 Picasso, a Volvo XC90 and a Toyota Prius. | Source

A Growing Number of Companies Working on Self-Driving Vehicles

An article titled 46 Corporations Working On Autonomous Vehicles, updated on September 4, 2018 (author not listed), presents major corporations--including traditional auto manufacturers, technology giants, and telecommunications companies that have joined in the quest to bring safe self-driving vehicles to both consumer and commercial transportation markets. Among the article's listings and discussion of corporations were the following major corporations: Amazon (filed patent for lane-switching technology. Now working on a vehicle with Toyota); Apple (building an employee transportation network. Already has 66 self-driving minivans in operation, in California); Audi (first automaker to launch “hands-free” driving. It’s self-driving A8 model on-the-street-driving approved in Europe); Volvo and partner, Autoliv, set to launch self-driving technology in 2021); BMW-Intel-Mobileye alliance to launch self-driving car by 2021); Mercedes and Bosch partnering, with 2000+ engineers developing driver-assist technology); Cisco (working on Ethernet technology that will allow automakers to save $35 billion over next four years); Ford (plans to launch its first self-driving vehicle by 2021); GM (with a $2.25 billion investment, plans to employ 700 engineers to work on autonomous vehicle R&D); Honda (already introduced partially autonomous driver-assistance on its Civic models, California has approved plans to test autonomous vehicles on the street).6

Persistent environmental, urban infrastructure, and consumer-oriented problems, such as traffic congestion, air pollution, and limited inner-city parking space, are continuing to interfere with the quality of life in larger cities, in the U.S. and around the world. Therefore, since transportation concerns affect both commercial and personal spaces, this discussion has included both commercial and consumer-oriented transportation industry applications. And, since major transportation-related problems continue to exist, the list of 46 companies working on solutions includes giants of technology and industry, such as Microsoft, Hyundai, Nissan/Renault, Samsung, Tesla, Toyota, Volkswagen, Waymo (Alphabet), Nvidia, Baidu, and more. These companies have joined an already impressive array of corporations that seem determined to respond to the growing trend of using AI and machine learning to develop autonomous vehicles that can help solve problems on the consumer and the commercial side of the automobile market.

References

  1. Novosilska, Lyudmyla. “5 Ways Artificial Intelligence is Impacting the Automotive Industry”; https://igniteoutsourcing.com/ automotive/artificial-intelligence-in-automotive-industry/. Publication date: November 30, 2018.
  2. Kerrigan, Saoirse. Interesting Engineering. “The 25 Ways AI Can Revolutionize Transportation, From Driverless Trains to Smart Tracks.” https://interestingengineering.com/ the-25-ways-ai-can-revolutionize- transportation -from-driverless-trains-to-smart-tracks. Publication date: April, 22, 2018.
  3. Silver, David. “Four Companies Selling Self-Driving Car Platforms Today, And One Coming”; https://www.forbes.com/sites/davidsilver/2018/08/22/four-companies-selling-self-driving-car-platforms-today-and-one-coming/#510457ac187f. Publication date: August 22, 2018.
  4. “The Industry-Leading Drive-by-Wire Kit”; https://www.dataspeedinc.com/. Website accessed online 4/12/19.
  5. Silver, David. “Three Companies Vying For Traction In Self-Driving Software Platform Race”; https://www.forbes.com/sites/davidsilver/2018/08/03/three-companies-that-offer-self-driving-software-platforms/#2c2607376ba7. Publication date: Aug 3, 2018.
  6. “46 Corporations Working On Autonomous Vehicles.” https://www.cbinsights.com/research/autonomous-driverless-vehicles-corporations-list/ ; September 4, 2018.

© 2019 Sallie B Middlebrook PhD

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