Data will be at the heart of the revolution in vehicle automation

Data will be at the heart of a forthcoming revolution in vehicle automation, with the ability to transform how we travel and predict our needs. This was the message given by speakers at an event hosted by Starcount CEO Edwina Dunn at the Science Museum last night. The event was to promote a forthcoming exhibition working titled ‘AI: Vehicles of the Future.’

Andrew Everett, an adviser to both industry and Government on autonomous vehicles described the rise of ACES –Autonomous, Connected, Electric and Shared vehicles – as a non-reversible trend. He said: “An entirely autonomous fleet could deliver reductions in delays by between 30 and 40%.” He said: “Autonomous vehicles and a change in the way transport is provided could free people from the driving tasks providing time for more productive activities.”

However he said more needed to be done “if the UK is to grab a large piece of the projected £900 billion annual global market.” He urged Government to focus on the transport system as a whole and support shared mobility as part of a truly integrated transport system. He said the key enabler to all this was data but we would “still need the physical vehicles to provide the transport itself, but in a new model of a shared, rather than individual basis. “

He said:

“The winners of the future will be those coordinators of the data who manage to build a long-term business case as will those vehicle manufacturers who base their business model around shared vehicles – there will be new collaborations and partnerships.”

Building on the theme Ellie Barlow, digital innovation expert, said there was a huge opportunity for people to interpret the significant payload of data in cars. At the moment, there was little data for product development in how people were driving post forecourt sale. With connectivity and automation there would be the opportunity for Original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to better understand how people were driving, to be better predictive of service needs. She said: “OEMs need to develop data technology to understand the issues better.”

Dunn pointed to the importance of exhibitions like this one in helping to inspire the next generation of STEM graduates with STEM skills never more in need. She said: “There is a relevance and creativity of Maths to life, with compelling stories showing human ingenuity.” She said: “Exhibitions like this can help set light a spark in young people.” She described as “a phenomenal step forward” the commitment of the Government to fund an extra £600 per pupil per school to study Maths A Level, which she secured from the Treasury during her time chairing the Your Life campaign to boost the number of students studying Maths and Physics A Level.

Dr. David Rooney, Keeper of Technologies & Engineering at the Science Museum, spoke about the exhibition in an historical context, pointing out that machine learning had been in operation in traffic systems since the early 60s and that actually the world’s first driverless car was from 1960, a Citroen DS which followed a cable on a road.

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