“The first rule of any technology used in a business is that automation applied to an efficient operation will magnify the efficiency. The second is that automation applied to an inefficient operation will magnify the inefficiency.” – Bill Gates
The recent deterring speech by automotive titan Tesla CEO Elon Musk on the use of level-5 AI and robotics in automobiles made one thing clear: the stellar leaps in current automation and robotics are indeed causing shockwaves and beaming our industries into the future, which may usher in a new industrial revolution.
Automation in the automotive industry doesn’t restrict itself to vehicle technology. The other areas of the auto industry are getting enhanced too. For example, the production department has new robotic machines for human free manufacturing and assembly, the software automation in managing the logistics & accounts, are just appetizers.
The port of Rotterdam is a great example of an almost fully automated port. Rotterdam is a huge port with almost 450 million tons passing through it per year. It uses the software to manage all its loading and unloading tasks. This has increased the pace and significantly reduced errors.
Similar experiments have been conducted by the biggest online retailer, Amazon. They are working out things to use drones in handling their logistics and product delivery. It is expected to replace a significant portion of its logistics services with drones. And fast-track delivery can be aimed in remote areas as well.
Below, therefore, are a few technologies which are becoming the basis of automation in the auto industry.
Revolutionized technologies in the auto industry:
The year 2018 will be long remembered as the revolutionary period for the auto industry. There has been an implementation of some significant technologies that would entirely change the face of the auto industry, for the rest of the future.
Artificial Intelligence or AI-based systems are being researched and deployed for enhancing the user experience, saving up on some pretty decent time & cost.
Systems such as speech and gesture recognition, eye tracking and driver monitoring, along with Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) and autonomous vehicles using camera-based machine vision, radar-based direction units, driver condition evaluation, and sensor fusion engine control units are just a few names in the technology advancements.
To categorize in general sense, following technologies which are spreading the wave of automation across the auto industry.
- Machine Vision or Computer Vision:
The idea is to inculcate vision in a machine to carry out imaging-based automatic inspection and analysis via process control and robot guidance. It means building a system which is self-learning and self-healing. For this to happen, many high-end technologies, software and hardware products and integrated systems were developed.
The technologies served as an “eye-brain” within the auto industry by imaging processes including conventional imaging, hyperspectral imaging, infrared imaging, line scan imaging, 3D imaging of surfaces, and X-ray imaging. The imaging was successful due to high-end productions in the field of camera and smart sensors. They capture the images of the surface of the automobile component and they are then analyzed by specialized application software.
This analysis is the basis of real-time decision-making capability within the vehicles. And is the major contributor of Autonomous (driverless) vehicle and services from companies like Uber and Volvo.
- Collaborative Robots:
Popularly called Cobots are AI-induced robots that assist human technicians in handling a large part of their jobs. They are highly helpful in the work scenario where multiple functions are needed to be tamed at the same time, like in production and transportation.
ISO 10218 defines four types of Cobots on the basis of functions –
· Safety Monitored Stop
· Hand Guiding
· Speed & Separation Monitoring
· Power & Force Limiting robots
- Artificial Intelligence for Driverless/Autonomous Cars
A prediction from an analysis firm, IHS Markit, states that there will be a rise of 109% in the installation of AI-based systems in new the vehicles by the year 2025, compared to a modest 8% adoption rate in 2015. Driverless or autonomous cars is the most loved technology.
NVIDIA and Bosch are big-name companies which are refining machine learning capabilities and enhancing the use of AI at the functional levels. The technology is proving to be benefitting for various auto transport companies – which can increase their profit margins by deploying autonomous carrier vehicles and delimiting the high dependency on skilled drivers.
- Cognitive Computing in IoT Connected Cars
The idea of collaborating different vehicles on the road will help in managing the traffic to lessen disruption and accidents. Internet of Things (IoT) is the network of physical devices or vehicle or other items embedded with electronics, software, sensors, actuators, and connectivity to enable them to connect and exchange data.
There is something more advanced here, called Cognitive Computing (CC). It is a collective of technology platforms combining AI and disciplines such as machine learning, language processing, human-computer interactions and a plethora of other technologies. So, CC in combination with the internet of things is a highly researched area in auto industry innovations.
Few automation innovations in the auto industry, since the past few years:
Not just vehicles, but the functional areas of the auto industry are equipped with sophisticated software and applications. Applications like vehicle IT systems, automated fleet management, cloud-based data analytics, robotics, location detection, and data networks help in responding even more quickly to customer’s shipment demands, by tracking shipments with more transparency and offering more definitive delivery schedules.
Some notable initiatives in this field are listed as under:
· Otto, Uber’s autonomous trucking arm, delivered 50,000 cans of beer by use of a self-driving vehicle, plying the Colorado highways from Fort Collins to Colorado Springs.
· Olli is a driverless shuttle bus and is manufactured by 3D printing. It is developed by an Arizona-based startup, Local Motors, which embedded IBM’s Watson Internet of Things for Automotive technology into Olli. Olli boarded its first passengers on the streets of a shopping district just outside Washington.
· Skuchain, a Silicon Valley startup, has created a transportation supply chain application using blockchain.
The blockchain is the concept that works behind bitcoin. It creates a series of verifiable and auditable information packets out of each transaction. Skuchain implemented this technology in commercial transportation to foster a more seamless and transparent interaction between car transport services and their customers. This would lower the transportation cost for customers by possibly cutting out distributors and other intermediaries.
The auto industry has a new face now – it is determined to change its “just-transportation-industry” status. It has now access to all technological advancements and big brands are generously investing funds to make the innovation happen. The world definitely needs these advancements.