Driverless Cars: Enabling the Transition of the ‘Driving Society’ to a ‘Driverless Society’ – Part III

In this last segment of our conversation with Mahbubul Alam, CTO/CMO of Movimento, an Aptiv company, we focus on the impact and benefits of driverless cars to the society at large.

Q. How are driverless cars going to change the dynamics of the automobile landscape?

Ans. The entire value chain of the automotive industry is going to be disrupted. The companies/brands that we know today are not guaranteed to have a future in the world of driverless cars. What got us here is not going to get us to the next level. We see how the automotive industry has evolved from the basic Henry Ford vehicle to the modern, connected and autonomous vehicles that we have today.

Autonomous vehicles mean that we do not need human drivers. It is similar to the self-checkout option in a supermarket where you can directly bill your items without interacting with any cashier.

Artificial intelligence will play a key role in defining the future of autonomous vehicles. The know-how of artificial intelligence is going to drive the demand for autonomous vehicles, not the brand/company that is making the engine and other vehicle parts.

In the future, we may not be talking about the OEMs that we know today. Instead, we may be talking about a completely different set of brand names altogether. Technology will drive the dynamics and the changing landscape of the automotive industry. One set of suppliers will become specialized in hardware robustness and the other set of suppliers will be specialized in software.

Q. What are the benefits of driverless cars in the current economy?

Ans: The main benefits of driverless cars are the reduction of fatal accidents and the improvement in business productivity. The cities of the future are going to compete on the basis of how accessible and eco-friendly they are for companies to grow. Since companies prefer those cities that have lesser traffic congestion, the cities that have better automated driving will have an advantage. When businesses grow in a city, a whole value chain is triggered giving rise to restaurants, malls and smaller stores, thus increasing the city’s economy.

Q. How is machine learning, along with OTA technology, going to affect the evolution of self-driving cars?

Ans: Machine learning is just a part of the artificial intelligence technology. We are going to see an increase in the adoption of neural networks and deep learning, which are much more complex. Machine learning is more like multi-layer learning; it has huge benefits but also comes with its own challenges. The whole family of artificial intelligence, with neural networks and deep learning, is going to change the industry in terms of creating code, as machines will be able to write their own code.

With artificial intelligence, machines are going to write their own code based on data patterns to defend themselves, because we give them the ability to understand things and make decisions on their own. This is going to have a profound impact on the industry, especially on patents. In such a scenario, the new code will be written based on the decisions that we made. When this happens, how do we identify patent infringements and who do we hold responsible for the outcomes?

With the whole industry undergoing digitalization with respect to artificial intelligence, nothing is pre-defined. When nothing is pre-defined and everything can be created on the fly, we have to come up with a system that can deal with it. We do not know how to go about this yet.

Q. Please share a few examples of driverless cars in the making.

Ans: As of January 11, 2018, there are 50 companies that are legally testing autonomous vehicles in California. Not only OEMs (like Volkswagen, BMW, Ford, Honda, Nissan, Mercedes Benz, and GM) and Tier-1 suppliers (like Aptiv, Bosch, Continental, and Nvidia), but also technology companies (like Waymo, Apple, Nullmax, Pony.AI, and Roadster.AI) are testing these autonomous vehicles.

Q. What is Movimento’s contribution in this revolution of driverless cars? What is the role of ValueLabs?

Ans: Movimento is playing a small, but significant, part in the revolution of driverless cars. We want to create a closed loop architecture that enables the collection of vehicle-generated data, the transmission of this data to the cloud where it is analyzed and then disseminated to all the other vehicles. The collective/crowd learning AI system of automated vehicles benefits every other vehicle as well. Every vehicle is becoming more intelligent each day because there are thousands of other connected/autonomous vehicles that are driving, generating data and transmitting these learnings to the cloud. In the cloud, the vehicle-generated data is analyzed and relevant data is disseminated to every other vehicle, making them more intelligent than they were before. With autonomous driving, there is a lot of knowledge that can be harnessed at different situations/conditions and would be beneficial for everybody.

Movimento’s task is to enable the transmission of meaningful data from the vehicle to the cloud and help analyze the data for the vehicle to make better decisions. This knowledge, that could include security patches, algorithm updates, 3D map improvements or new apps and services, should be extended to as many vehicles as possible. Movimento along with its eco-system partners like ValueLabs, help accelerate the transition of the automotive industry towards the software-defined car.

Driverless cars will change society more than any other technology has over the past century. Roads will be safer, there will be a lot more free time, cities will be reshaped and traffic may become a thing of the past. Driverless cars are here and they are here to stay. With this, we conclude the three-part blog series on driverless cars.