With the development of artificial intelligence technology, driverless automobile industry is going through accelerated growth gradually. Nearly 20 companies around the world, including Google, Volvo, Ford, BMW, Baidu, and Intel, have announced that they will achieve and popularize unmanned driving by 2020.
A driverless car is a smart car that adopts an in-vehicle sensing system to sense the road environment, automatically plan driving routes, and to control the car itself for reaching a predetermined destination. It integrates many technologies such as automatic control, architecture, artificial intelligence and visual computing. It comes from the well-developed technologies of computer science, pattern recognition and intelligent control technology.
Compared with the per capita car ownership in the United States, the Chinese auto market still has great prospects. According to the State Information Center, by 2020, China’s car ownership will reach 250 million. It can be expected that the era when every family has at least a car is coming. According to IHS Markit, by 2022, 54% of new cars in China, 87% in the United States, 89% in Canada, 91% in Germany, and 92% of new cars in the UK will be connected to the Internet. More than half of the world’s vehicles will be connected to the Internet.
In the field of artificial intelligence nowadays, unmanned driving is a focus of attention. All countries regard unmanned driving as the commanding height of future AI technology and pay attention to unmanned driving from the perspective of national strategy. Foreign giant Google and domestic giants Huawei, Baidu, Alibaba, and Tecent have considered an early realization of “unmanned vehicle production” as key directions for the company’s future development. Traditional automakers are also actively seeking to cooperate with top companies in the field of artificial intelligence to achieve breakthroughs in unmanned vehicle technology as early as possible. At present, WIMI AR Hologram, SenseTime and other visual companies, which have made great strides in applications to the domestic fields of face recognition and AR hologram, plan to create an industrial chain of AI unmanned driving.
In China, the common net users have started to see more reports related to SenseTime in the past two years. They found when presented at the exhibition and forum, SenseTime was always talking about its patents, top papers and other things far from commercial projects. So, many people may question how SenseTime makes profit.
However, industry insiders in the field of artificial intelligence clearly know that face recognition technology of SenseTime has been early and widely used in security and finance. In addition to these professional applications, in order to increase the fun of the live broadcasting, commercial applications of live-broadcasting platforms for ordinary Internet users have also adopted the AR technology developed by SenseTime. In the process of developing face recognition and AR application technology, SenseTime has accomplished a lot of achievements in the field of deep learning. These achievements are also the advantage of SenseTime when entering the field of unmanned driving.
Development of unmanned driving needs to be supported by highly developed industrial chains, including upstream equipment suppliers, mid-stream unmanned driving solutions and brands, and downstream distributors and users, involving every aspect. The main battlefield currently is the unmanned driving solution. In addition to the traditional two giants NVIDIA and Intel, domestic players including the Horizon Robotics, Cambricon, and Eyemore have been actively engaged in the recently flourishing field of AI chip.
It is obvious that, different from the traditional automobile industry era, automobile assembly plants acts as only one component of the entire unmanned driving chain, and have become less important gradually. This is also the reason for concern of traditional car giants. After all, no assembly plants wants to degenerate into an auto foundry. Ford has proposed to start operating its own self-driving taxi business on a large scale in 2021, and then actively promote scenes application for the users.
As the leading AI holographic vision company in China, WIMI AR Hologram has created the third-generation 6D light field holographic technology product. The simulation degree over 98% takes the users’ breath away in astonishment. WIMI AR Hologram has been well developed in terms of technology. It is qualified with more than 4,325 holographic content IP reserves and owns 295 AR-related patents and 76 software works. Its commercial application scenarios are mainly concentrated in five major fields of home entertainment, light field cinema, performance system, commercial launch system and advertising display system. It is reported that WIMI AR Hologram has the capabilities of independent research and development and independent innovation, including multiple-obstacle recognition capabilities based on artificial intelligence technology; fully self-developed city-level HD maps and high-precision positioning capabilities of unmanned vehicles; abilities of storing, transmitting and processing city-level maps and big data of driving; unique multi-sensor fusion solution; self-developed large-scale simulation system; capabilities of innovating and integrating vehicle hardware and software; emergency safety system (for example, when the radar encounters power failure, the vehicle can stop safely) and so on.
Advent of Unmanned Driving Era
If the car can already automatically plan the route, control the speed, and avoid traffic jams, will there be drivers in the future? Driverless cars are neither fatigued nor angry, without being drunk and distracted. They have the unparalleled advantages over human beings. Each car acts as both a means of transportation and a mobile information terminal. It is automatically connected to the Internet of Things, which can realize information sharing at any time. Besides, driverless cars will automatically go to the charging station for charging, and the road will never need traffic lights, which can maximize the use efficiency of roads. These scenes are the whole industry’s prospects in the era of unmanned driving.
Unmanned driving is a cross-border technology that involves many industries such as artificial intelligence, automobile manufacturing, and travelling. A driverless car is actually equivalent to a traditional car plus a robot driver, combined with the most important technology of artificial intelligence.
Driverless cars will liberate hands of human and make travel more secure, economical and efficient. At present, the world’s major powers have already participated in the unmanned driving competition. Among them, China, the United States, Germany and Japan are in a leading position. Especially because China and the United States have accumulated a wealth of experience in artificial intelligence, both of them are most likely to take the lead on industry convergence.
Responding to the advent of wide application of driverless technology, all countries around the world are working hard to revise their respective traffic regulations, and then planing to open up demonstration areas for test of driverless technology. For example, the United States has specially built the Ann Arbor demonstration area and simulated real road conditions. The demonstration zone covers an area of 73 square kilometers, where there are complicated road structures such as highways, urban roads and country roads, involving more than 9,000 vehicles. For another example, Germany has opened the ITS highway corridor, extending from Rotterdam, the Netherlands to Vienna, Austria. At the same time, the UK has tested driverless cars in three pilot cities.
China’s driverless car industry is also in an initial stage. On April 6, 2017, according to the “Medium and Long-Term Development Plan for the Automotive Industry” jointly issued by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, the National Development and Reform Commission, and the Ministry of Science and Technology, cars are transforming from a means of transportation to a large mobile intelligent terminal, energy storage unit and digital spaces. The plan proposed that by 2025, the key areas would be fully intelligent, and the proportion of the automotive aftermarket as well as service industry would take up 55% of the value chain, and that China’s intelligent networked cars would reach the world advanced level. On December 18, 2017, Beijing issued a guidance to road test of self-driving vehicles, clarifying that an independent legal entity registered in China could apply for temporary driving on the road in case of scientific research and stereotype testing concerning self-driving. This is the first guiding policy proposed for the self-driving road test in China. Since then, the self-driving on the road will be legal. The whole industry reaches a consensus that the guiding policy is of great significance.
History is always repeating itself. The development of expressways has promoted the booming of automotive industry, and evolution of the Internet has supported the prosperity of information technology industry. The underlying influence of infrastructure on related industries has never changed. Undoubtedly, the new infrastructure represented by the Internet of Things, cloud computing and 5G networks will also have a profound impact on the competitive pattern and results. The field of unmanned driving involves not competitions among individual companies but cluster competitions in terms of new industrial chains, industrial environments and infrastructure systems. It is possible that driverless vehicles will still maintain the shape of traditional cars, but it is obvious that its connotation has undergone qualitative changes. In the new context paradigm, a giant should not be judged by starting point but its position in the future.