The global automotive industry is enormous. According to Select USA, “In 2017 alone, U.S. light-vehicle sales reached 17.1 million units, the third straight year in which sales reached or surpassed $17 million….[and] exported almost 2 million new light vehicles and almost 130,000 medium and heavy trucks (valued at $63.2 billion) to more than 200 markets around the world, with additional exports of automotive parts valued at $85.6 billion.”
It makes sense that an industry of this size would pursue artificial intelligence as a way to continue to grow and innovate.
What businesses are included in the automotive industry?
In addition to car manufacturers like Honda and Toyota, the automotive industry can be assessed to include:
- Car dealerships
- Repair shops
- Transmission and engine plants
- Rental car companies
- Research and design firms who work with carmakers
Every one of these industries could benefit from AI processes to enhance streamlined operations.
Automation in the automotive industry and how it stands to benefit from AI
One of the most studied methods of automation is the moving assembly line, pioneered by Henry Ford, one of the forefathers of the automotive industry. His automation efforts helped to streamline the automotive industry into what it is today. The History Channel website notes, “Later, the streamlining process grew more sophisticated. Ford broke the Model T’s assembly into 84 discrete steps, for example, and trained each of his workers to do just one. He also hired motion-study expert Frederick Taylor to make those jobs even more efficient. Meanwhile, he built machines that could stamp out parts automatically (and much more quickly than even the fastest human worker could).”
Much like that assembly line, AI in the auto industry has the potential to make work faster and easier. Here are some of the ways that AI stands to improve and enhance the auto industry.
Manufacturers have much to gain through greater adoption of AI. For instance, a company called Rethink Robotics is dedicated to partnering robotics, AI, and deep learning technology with the assembly line workers who help to manufacture cars. Much like the original auto assembly lines, robotic-assisted assembly lines have helped to streamline efficiency. One BuiltIn article notes that “these robots are used to automate factory tasks that are tedious, dirty or even dangerous for human workers. Though robots have been working on the automotive manufacturing line for years, they never worked side by side with humans. Rethink’s robots work with humans on the supply chain, tending machines, handling materials, performing tests and packing finished products.” This can increase overall employee effectiveness, as well as improve workplace safety.
Additionally, carmakers can improve quality control and help to reduce product recalls, as well as reduce operational downtime. Audi, for instance, uses computer-assisted cameras to detect tiny cracks in sheet metal used in its manufacturing processes, which would not be visible to the human eye.
Finally, automakers have been growing the technological applications of self-driving cars for several years. The benefits of autonomous, AI-driven cars include everything from greater access to the disabled community to helping homebound people get groceries to improving driving routes to reduce emissions to helping people get home safely after drinking.
Ultimately, the biggest AI applications in the car manufacturing sphere are related to safety and efficiency – two of the industries highest priorities.
Some dealerships are exploring the use of chatbots to enhance their customer service. This enables dealers to not only provide information to their customers quickly and after hours, but it also removes some of the pressure from the car research and buying experience. An AI-powered chatbot can easily interface with a car inventory database or car maintenance database and provide answers and suggestions to customers in a low-pressure way that results in better customer experience.
Additionally, dealers can use AI and uses machine learning to better predict sales. Some Volkswagon dealers used economic, political, and meteorological data to manage inventory levels and predict which models would sell over time. These predictions can also impact marketing efforts and budgets, so AI technology enables decisions across dealership operations.
3. Car insurance companies
Progressive already has a data-gathering device that sends driving behavior information to the company to create the most accurate risk profile of drivers – and then quote rates accordingly. It’s marketed as a device that helps drivers save money based on good habits, but it can also help gather driving data that enables Progressive to manage rates across the board.
AI can also improve the claims process for drivers. The software app from Ant Financial uses video-based processes to collect information about a crash or claim and expedites the process for both users and insurance companies.
AI has the potential to revolutionize almost every auto industry company or process, from increasing safety in manufacturing plants and on the roads to growing sales to providing accurate data to insurance companies and dealerships alike. To learn more about how robotic processes are poised to improve businesses, go here.