There are many benefits of AI in the automotive industry, and they’re not as scary as we often think they are. In fact, most AI implementations are for safety as well as convenience.

The United Nations have set a goal to halve deaths and injuries caused by road collisions by 2030. The main method for achieving this is through technology, and implementing AI in cars.

AI in cars has, to some degree, already been established. However, there are plans in place to utilise the technology to a much higher degree – but what does this mean?

Driving automation

There are five different levels of AI in self-driving cars, with the car being more independent from the human driver in each one. As it stands, most modern cars are at level one or two, but levels three and four in particular aren’t as futuristic as you might first think.

Level 1

Level one is basic driver assistance, and is the most common form of AI in cars today. This covers cruise control, parking assist, and additional safety features that drivers are happy to welcome into their cars.

Level 2

Level two is also increasingly common, and features an advanced driver assistance system (ADAS). In a level two car, the driver still has to be active with their hands on the wheel, but the car can park, accelerate and brake on its own, as well as steering when it needs to. This often comes in the form of lane-keep assist and automatic emergency braking.

Levels 3-5

The later levels are still in the testing stages, and range from conditional automation in level three (like driving on its own on motorways, where the speed is regular and lane changes aren’t regularly necessary), to a fully autonomous, driverless car at level five. At level five, a steering wheel and pedals aren’t even included. Everyone in the vehicle is a passenger, which makes these a great theoretical option for taxi services.

Read more: Are we ready for autonomous vehicles?

Driver monitoring systems

The other way in which AI features in many modern cars is in the form of a driver monitoring system, or DMS. These track the faces of the human driver to make sure they’re staying focused on the road in front of them, through features like head and eye tracking.

If you’re tired, for example, your DMS could recognise that your head is dipping or your eyes are closing. It will therefore prompt you to slow down, pay more attention to the road, or even take a break.

This type of AI in cars is also being evolved, with the main idea being driver recognition. In much the same way that you can use face recognition to unlock your smartphone, car theft figures could be brought right down if your car refuses to start without recognising the driver. In the case of shared drivers, you could have saved seat positions for each driver, and a wholly enhanced, personalised cabin experience.

AI for road safety

It’s easy to get lost in the narrative that self-driving cars are a scary concept, but the intelligent features being added to cars are, more often than not, safety mechanisms.

Automatic emergency braking, automated parking, and more have been implemented so far, but that’s only the beginning. In fact, the cars themselves aren’t the only place where AI for road safety is being used.

For example, AI can also improve crash data collection and emergency response time after crashes, on top of its implementation in vehicles that reduces the risk of a crash to begin with.

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