Thought leadership: Autonomous vehicles closer than we think

John Osmant, Managing Director at Brigade Electronics GmbH, explains how artificial intelligence is paving the way for autonomous vehicles becoming an everyday fixture on our roads sooner than we might think. 

How is AI changing the commercial vehicle safety industry? 

AI is a pivotal step in catapulting vehicles into the future. When the first commercial vehicle turn-assist systems were introduced, the technology was relatively basic and not particularly effective. Almost any object, either moving or stationary, would be detected by sensors – even if it didn’t pose a potential hazard. Improved Radar and Camera/Monitor systems were developed with the main aim to reduce the number of false warnings, which were causing a great deal of driver frustration and fatigue. However, with the introduction of AI, this has been successfully addressed and 100% of false warning are now prevented.  

The AI utilised in the latest technology, such as Brigade’s Sidescan®Predict and CarEYE, constantly gathers data and is able to differentiate between things like type – whether it is a person – a cyclist or a pedestrian –  or an object – as well as its distance from the vehicle, and the direction and speed it is travelling. This information is then fed into an algorithm that calculates the risk of a collision. The technology has helped to dramatically reduce the number of false alerts experienced by drivers, making it even safer. 

AI is very quickly becoming the standard for the commercial vehicle safety market and is now an expectation of customers. With this in mind, we are starting to focus our efforts on how we can translate this into other systems that meet the needs of industries such as construction and the emergency services. 

What effect is AI likely to have on how soon we might see autonomous vehicles in everyday use? 

AI is rapidly growing in popularity. The market is becoming extremely familiar with this technology and fleet managers and operators now expect safety technology and devices to include AI features. Therefore, it is logical to believe that all products will eventually be powered by AI. My personal view is that this means it is only a matter of time before fully autonomous vehicles become a regular fixture on our roads. 

If you consider the timeline, where AI will be the norm –  – aHe nd that’s not far off – then the reality of autonomous vehicles is only a short way behind that. I have debated this on many occasions with colleagues and other industry experts, but I believe that we are looking at closer to 15 years rather than 50 years.  

A good example of how rapidly technology can advance is the timeline of mobile phone technology. In 2000, it would’ve been hard to believe that 20 years later we would be using our mobile phones to pay for products, make face to face calls, store tickets and hold other important data, such as our medical information. Once technology is set in motion it builds quickly and I strongly believe this applies to how AI is being utilised for the vehicle market. Alongside this, if you factor in current issues, such as the shortage of lorry drivers, then this is another motivator for expediting autonomous vehicles. 

Where do you see the future of AI for the industry and how do you think AI can help further with enhancing road safety? 

It’s important to have a clear development strategy. Here at Brigade, we regularly keep abreast of what is going on in the market. It’s important that we understand what autonomous vehicles mean for the industry and how we react to that. For us, this is a multifaceted approach and building relationships with our technology partners and developing key competencies is core to what we do. At the centre of this is ensuring that we are continuously working on new and improved products – embracing AI is vital to this approach. 

For further information about Brigade and our range of commercial vehicle safety products, please speak to one of our friendly team on 01322 420300 or email [email protected].