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Autonomous cars – what a concept!

By delaininsur90304164, Mar 15 2017 02:52PM

Each January, thousands of people from across the world descend upon Las Vegas to see the latest innovations in technology at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES). Last month, I was one of the more than 177,000 people who attended the show which spanned 2.47 million net square feet of exhibit space. If you are an innovation geek like me, this is paradise – albeit with sore feet from all the walking!

Last year, I wrote a couple of posts about how advances in artificial intelligence (AI) were going to change the world of insurance. While they just touched on the possible effects we might see within carriers and in agents’ offices, my focus was more on impacts we could see in the insurance lifecycle itself – be it increased claims efficiency, more timely and targeted communications, etc

Today, I thought it would be fun to tell you about my experience at CES and two amazing concept cars that show how AI might become part of the cars for the future. It’s important to note that neither of these cars is rolling off the assembly line; they are just examples of the possibilities.

One of the coolest displays in the automotive space was Toyota’s Concept-i car. It wasn’t the outward appearance that I found appealing, but the vision Toyota had for bringing AI to your car. “Yui” (pronounced U-E) is their equivalent of Alexa, Amazon’s digital assistant. Yui has an artificial intelligence personality that customizes itself to the occupants. The vehicle has inward facing cameras which enable the AI system and facial recognition program to identify who is in the vehicle and where they are seated. Still more amazing is that through the use of facial recognition, Yui can tell whether the driver is distracted or sleepy and recommend switching from manual to autonomous mode

Yui can also recognize emotive states and leverage that awareness in tailoring recommendations. If you’re slightly irrational like me and would prefer to be moving rather than stuck in traffic, Yui will pick up on your irritation and recommend routes that may be a bit longer but don’t have the congestion. Similarly, if your family seems to be more relaxed when taking scenic routes than on the freeway, Yui will learn this and make suggestions based on it

Honda also made a big splash at CES when they showcased the NeuV, which stands for New Electric Urban Vehicle. One objective of the NeuV (pronounced “new v”), is to address the dilemma that private vehicles are not in use 95% of the time. According to Honda, “the NeuV explores the idea of how to create new value for its owner by functioning as an automated ride sharing vehicle, picking up and dropping off customers at local destinations when the owner is not using the car. The NeuV also can sell energy back to the electric grid during times of high demand when it’s not in use. These activities have the potential to create a new business model for enterprising customers.”

Honda’s NeuV also explores the possibility of having an AI assistant that will have an "emotion engine” which will study the driver’s emotions and make recommendations based upon their mood and driving history.

But, would you drive one?

One question about the viability of self-driving cars has been whether drivers will be willing to give up their sense of control. Yui and NeuV are similar concepts for how to break this barrier. They do this by acclimating drivers to the AI system in a way that can build a trusting relationship. By providing recommendations ranging from alternate routes you might prefer or restaurants it knows you frequent when it’s getting to be time to eat, these car manufacturers believe you will become more accepting of the offer for Yui or NeuV to take the wheel when you look tired or appear distracted – paving the way to a more driverless future.

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