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The automobile industry is poised at the brink of an automotive revolution. From hybrid and electric vehicles that offer a balanced driving experience to artificial intelligence (AI) and data science-powered systems which promote safe mobility for all, there is no limit to human imagination. Not only are these advancements making cars affordable, but they are also making them environmentally safe, a feat that was hard to achieve until recently. According to a report published by the International Organization of Motor Vehicle Manufacturers, the automobile sale statistics from 2005 to 2017 have seen a constant growth, and this trend is expected to continue in the future.

  • While innovation has always shaped the automobile industry, change in the fields of artificial intelligence and data science is the new bandwagon of growth.
  • This correlation of data science with automobiles has further spurred the demand for data science courses.
  • With car manufacturers like Tesla and Ford upending the dynamics of the automobile industry, there is no denying the fact that AI and data science in automobiles is more than a brief trend.
  • Vehicles with features like automatic locks and Bluetooth are now passé, and thanks to the contributions of AI and data science, autonomous vehicles are now reshaping the automobile industry.

Autonomous vehicles as the present and future

As mankind becomes more dependent on technology and expects more innovation out of every sector, it is hardly surprising that the automobile industry would be any different. Over the past few decades, car manufacturers have worked relentlessly to link automotive hardware to software, and the results are promising. As smart ‘driver assistants’ slowly wedged their way into cars, connectivity features became commonplace. Today, cars come equipped with personal assistants that inform drivers about lane departures and provide automated features like emergency brakes, collision avoidance, and blind spot warnings.

What are autonomous vehicles?

While these ‘smart’ cars are available in the mass-market, when it comes to automation, it is just the tip of the iceberg. Powered with advances in data science coupled with AI, car manufacturers are looking at a different goal altogether – making vehicles genuinely autonomous. Truly autonomous vehicles are being designed with a vision in which the passenger taps the destination into a smartphone, steps inside the vehicle, and is driven by the computer. These genuinely autonomous or driverless cars is where the automobile industry is headed.

  • The truly autonomous vehicle is still a vision for manufacturers; however, significant leaps have already been made in this direction.
  • The Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) has defined five levels of autonomous control.
  • These levels range from full manual control (Level 0) to complete automation (Level 5). While most car manufacturers are at partial automation (Level 2).
  • Car companies like Audi and Tesla are already making Level 3 (manual intervention is required in some situations) a success.

Role of Data Science and AI

The concept of autonomous cars has taken wing because of the opportunities that data science and AI has provided to carmakers. Manufacturers have collected massive amounts of data on human responses to traffic conditions, collision and obstacle avoidance, how people react, what a driver is most likely to do when faced with certain situations, road networks, and weather conditions. Once collected, this data is processed in a dynamic fashion using data science tools and techniques. The insights derived from these tools are then fed into AI algorithms to make autonomous driving possible.

The assistive features and self-driving abilities are provided by AI algorithms developed using insights derived from the data science tools. An important factor that comes into play while designing an autonomous vehicle is that no two road situations are ever the same, and hence rigid rules cannot be set. Consequently, there comes the need of a self-learning system that adapts from millions of miles of driving data. This correlation between data science and artificial intelligence is what constitutes the core of an efficient autonomous vehicle.

Shared mobility

  • While self-driven cars are the most attractive innovation in the automobile industry, AI and data science have more roles to play.
  • Car manufacturers are designing car systems that promise overall better mobility to their drivers. These cars come packed with features which use real-time data to assist car drivers.
  • These include self-learning diagnostic systems that warn about impending failure, user interfaces that recognise individual drivers’ preferences, navigation systems that make journeys shorter by using traffic modelling and real-time data, and much more.
  • When change is happening on all fronts, the market for the automobile industry is only expected to see rapid growth.
  • This is supported by Tractica’s market estimates in which they predict that the automotive AI market could reach $14 billion by 2025.

The advancements in AI and data science have triggered a future in which cars will not only be safely driven but will be driven by AI systems as well. With these additions, the very face of mobility and transport is changing, and for all the right reasons. While the concept of self-driven cars may sound far-fetched at first, the innovations in this sector have hastened the pace of change. AI and data science are not just reshaping the automobile industry, but are now adding an altogether different dimension to the entire concept of transportation.

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Vivek Kumar Vivek is the President of Consumer Revenue at UpGrad, an online education platform providing industry oriented programs like Big Data, Digital Marketing or Data science courses etc in collaboration with world-class institutes, some of which are MICA, IIIT BANGALORE, BITS and various industry leaders which include MakeMyTrip, Ola, Flipkart to name a few. He has 19 years of experience in diversified industries like Consumer goods, Media, Technology Products and Education Services. He has been leading businesses & multi-cultural teams with a consistent record of market-beating performance and building brand leadership. His previous engagement has been with Manipal Global Education services as Sr General Manager, Education Services (Digital Transformation Strategy & Global Expansion).



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