It wasn’t too long ago that artificial intelligence (A.I.) was science fiction. Yet today, it permeates every aspect of our lives. Every time we use our smartphone, play video games, or buy something online, we are using A.I. It is also changing the automobile. Cars are becoming smarter. They can now assess the needs of the driver and passengers through sensors embedded into the vehicle. Cars can sense danger and protect us, they can also help us find a great meal, and find us a place to rest or play on our journey.

This transformation from fiction to reality is anchored in data—Big Data. The average connected vehicle generates a minimum of 1 GB data per day with some vehicles capable of transmitting terabytes of data, the equivalent of 500 hours of movies. Collecting this data and combining it with other data from sensors in the road, weather data, navigation data, and consumer data is where the magic happens.

So how does Big Data, A.I., and machine learning (M.L.) come together to create new insights in automotive. It starts with large volumes of highly dynamic data that come from multiple different sources, and different formats. Finding insights from this diverse data is like trying to find a single grain of sand on a beach. The use of A.I. and M.L. provides a programmatic way of searching through massive amounts of data, learning, and discovering patterns to drive new insights.

In the connected car, automotive manufacturers use Big Data to continually evolve what is being called the software-defined car, enabling them to deliver premium connectivity services and over-the air (OTA) upgrades to your car throughout its lifecycle. The beauty of this technology is that you can now receive software upgrades over the Internet to improve the safety and reliability of the car, and offer new functionality while you are cruising through your daily life.

Beyond the vehicle itself, A.I. and M.L. offer new ways to improve the automotive consumer buying experience. Digital retailing has switched into hyperdrive with more and more of us going online to research and purchase a new vehicle. Imagine a world in which the OEM manufacturer and the car dealer can help find the car of your dreams by providing smart recommendations based on your interests, location, and lifestyle. A.I./M.L. is fuelling the emergence of personalised offers, tailored to your needs.

Information from car purchases along with driving patterns can be used to create cars that are tailored for our increasingly mobile lifestyles. And because more cars are software-designed, new software-based capabilities can be added remotely, enabling buyers of connected vehicles to have more value throughout the lifetime ownership of the vehicle.

What if A.I. and M.L. could transform the vehicle service experience—harnessing the power of connected vehicle information to predict maintenance needs and address issues before they become costly problems. An average connected vehicle has up to 100 sensors and that is expected to double in the next five to 10 years. These sensors measure everything from tyre and oil pressure to other operational systems.

A.I./M.L. models take sensor data from the car to track wear and tear on critical components such as brakes, battery, and the engine. This sensor data can then be fed to your favourite dealership service department along with yourself to proactively service your vehicle before you have an issue.

In the not-too-distant future, your car may automatically connect to your mechanic when there is a sensor malfunction and request a service. From the comfort of your vehicle, your car will help you make a service appointment. And because the dealership has the sensor data, they can work proactively to have the right parts and service technician waiting for you when you arrive.

Sensor data in the vehicle can serve up critical operating data to automotive manufacturers who can track system vulnerabilities, mechanical or software, and leverage A.I. and M.L. to predict anomalies. For software related issues, many of us can simply download software to resolve an issue. For parts, the vehicle in the future will be able to proactively update you on warranty and recalls.

Living in Silicon Valley, I get a first-hand look at the new innovations in A.I. and M.L. While there have been many advances in this technology, we are in the early stages of the data revolution in automotive retailing. To drive into that future, it starts with harnessing the power of Big Data, and bringing together different types of information to create new insights and new opportunities. It will be interesting to see the next chapter of this journey.

Views are personal. The author is senior vice president-product, CDK Global.

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