MOTOR Magazine

A MOTOR Magazine Newsletter
January 6, 2017

Contributed by Bob Chabot
Artificial Intelligence (AI) Enters the Autosphere

AI Must Embrace a human-centric approach

“Artificial intelligence (AI) is a key future topic for Mercedes-Benz, in-car and beyond, such as in the fields of mobility services or in development and production,” says Anke Kleinschmit, Head of Daimler Group Research. “It has ceased to be science fiction and the progress in autonomous driving is an impressive proof of this.” Kleinschmit shared with MOTOR a summary of the discussion between scientists, engineers and journalists at Daimler’s recent Future Talk event in Berlin, Germany, an annual dialogue that this year focused on the integration of artificial intelligence in the field of mobility and the interaction of humans and machines.

In addition to Kleinschmit, other Daimler experts participating in this year's round table discussion included Alexander Mankowsky, futurologist and trend researcher; Dr. Uwe Franke, Head of Image Recognition, Signal Processing and Sensor Fusion; and Patrick Klingler, Head of IT Innovation Management. External experts participating included Dr. Miguel Nicolelis, Duke Center for Neuroengineering and Prof. Jürgen Schmidhuber, IDISIA Swiss Research Institute for Artificial Intelligence; and Arun Srinivasan, Bosch Group senior vice president.

AI will soon be used in autonomous driving, diagnostics and other automotive applications, and will drive the value of automotive AI sales to $75 billion by 2035, according to and other market researchers. (All images — Daimler Group)

Opportunities and Limits of AI
“Besides technical development and data security, a basic prerequisite for the sustained success of artificial intelligence in all application cases is the acceptance by society and consumers,” Kleinschmit emphasized. “Artificial intelligence will only be successful on a long-term basis if we succeed in building up trust between man and machine.”

“As far back as the 1960s, researchers expected a major breakthrough in the development and application of artificial intelligence, but the human world still proved too complex for digital computers,” advised Mankowsky. “The advent and pervasiveness of the internet, the mass of data that has become available and the huge increase in computing power of today's computers are three accelerants that have allowed AI to now enter people's lives and offer huge opportunities and potential for the future of the automobile.”

“Today, AI already assists the development phase and production by providing intuitive access to global knowledge and know-how,” he added. “But it is critical to always tailor AI to the individual needs and experiences. We must also define the division of tasks between human and artificial intelligence."

Humans Must be the Control Center for Cognitive Automobiles
“Another necessary prerequisite is being aware of what artificial intelligence is able to do and what it isn't,” Kleinschmit noted. “Ultimately AI will always need human participation. While AI has the advantage of reaching optimal results in a shorter space of time than humans, human experience is crucial to AI examining data and other inputs to then make ‘correct’ decisions. As increasingly autonomous vehicles enter the marketplace, they must be able to respond to all situations properly.”

“Cognitive vehicles equipped with AI are likely to become the basis for a holistic mobility eco-system of the future,” Klinger stated. “For example, coupled with corresponding services, they could autonomously analyze the current traffic situation for all forms of transport and draw up an individual mobility plan that suits the customer's personal daily routine and mood. In addition, household robots and delivery drones could be linked to the system with the pilot of the cognitive car as the control center for this.”

“Unlike smartphones and wearables, vehicles equipped with AI could provide a digital experience that analyzed driver behavior, interpreted needs and adapted accordingly,” he continued. “It would be able to identify what the driver wants or needs in certain situations. Examples include playing the right music to suit the current mood, setting the most pleasant temperature or developing services relating to health and safety. Moreover, the cognitive vehicle would offer driver-determined access to an individualized artificial intelligence which supports human beings, entertains them and could even challenge them intellectually.”

Image and Pattern Recognition are Key to Autonomous Driving
“To successfully embark on this path, vehicles must be able to acquire knowledge about their environment as well as analyze it,” Kleinschmit shared. “This is known as ‘machine learning’ which already plays an important role for autonomous driving as of today.”

“Daimler is working intensively on the further optimization of automatic image and pattern recognition for advanced driver assistance systems and autonomously driving vehicles,” explained Dr. Franke. “A decisive topic here is the interaction of cameras, sensors and the associated computing units. The system breaks down the pictures of road scenes into abstract segments with colored marking. In this way it identifies buildings, vehicles, persons, trees and pavements among other things and reliably finds traffic lights as well as smaller dangerous obstructions on the road.”

Based on this, the autonomous vehicle analyses the traffic situation, predicts the behavior of other road users and decides on its own behavior. For instance, in daylight, many systems for image and pattern recognition, on the market are reliable, but our current system also offers top level results at night and that is a major development.”

“The next step is coupling an understanding of machine behavior with recognizing, interpreting and integrating people's gestures and facial expressions,” he added. “That is what will make the type of interaction between man and autonomous vehicles possible that will enable trust to be created between humans and machines. Vehicles must be able to make it clear that they recognize pedestrians and pay attention to them. Pedestrians must receive information about where an autonomous vehicle is going, how it will behave in the next few moments and how they should behave themselves.”

The cost of AI hardware sensors has been dropping in recent years, making them a more affordable manufacturing choice for automakers.

AI Can Help Technicians
“Artificial intelligence has the potential to bring digitalization in the automotive industry to a new level; it is no longer science fiction,” Kleinschmit noted. “The progress in autonomous driving and other applications — development, production, distribution, mobility and service repair — prove this in an impressive way.”

“AI could also make a decisive contribution to diagnosing technical problems,” she added. “Until now, maintenance professionals either had to search through huge amounts of documents and resources, or fall back on their personal experience to get information to identify and resolve problems. Repair and maintenance processes could be speeded up and made more efficient by designing and engineering an AI-based system.”

As an example, she cited integrating AI into repair and maintenance processes. “Employing ‘natural speech recognition’ AI algorithms in semantic search engines that recognized various key words or phrases, input either aurally or in writing (e.g. ‘oil is leaking,’ 'oil leak,' or 'oil seeping'), rather than require a technician to use a specific, exact wording would help. By advancing research and development in this and other directions, AI will be assured of a role in the automotive industry’s future.”

[Editor's note: Visit for the latest diagnostic and service insights.]

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