If you are looking for an answer to the question What is Artificial Intelligence? and you only have a minute, then here's the definition the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence offers on its home page: "the scientific understanding of the mechanisms underlying thought and intelligent behavior and their embodiment in machines."
However, if you are fortunate enough to have more than a minute, then please get ready to embark upon an exciting journey exploring AI (but beware, it could last a lifetime) …
Welcome to The Morning Shift, your roundup of the auto news you crave, all in one place every weekday morning. Here are the important stories you need to know. Everyone and their grandma is creating autonomous tech these days. Tesla, Audi, Cadillac, Mercedes and new players like Uber and Google are just a few of the companies developing software to make cars drive themselves eventually. But Toyota is hanging back.
Japanese semiconductor maker Renesas announced Tuesday that Toyota has selected two of its chips to power the autonomous features in the self-driving cars it plans to commercially launch in 2020. The combination of chips will provide Toyota's "Highway Teammate" feature with capabilities like peripheral recognition, driving judgments, and body control, Renesas said. Specifically, Renesas will provide Toyota with its R-Car system-on-chip (SoC), which serves as an "electronic brain" for both advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS) and in-vehicle infotainment. The R-Car SoC will be a part of an engine control unit from Denso, a Toyota components supplier. Additionally, Toyota will use Renesas' RH850 microcontroller (MCU) for automotive control capabilities -- like driving, steering and braking functions -- based on the judgments made by the R-Car SoC.
In one Toyota video, shown at the Tokyo Motor Show, a woman sits on a seaside cliff, talking about her father with her car. "He sounds like a great father," says Yui, in a baritone male voice. "You're a bit like him," the woman says. Until now, Toyota, the world's second-largest car maker by vehicle sales, has kept relatively quiet about autonomous vehicles and how it plans to deal with challenges from Silicon Valley upstarts, such as Google parent Alphabet Inc.'s Waymo LLC and others. "We think this is a good way to do it," said Didier Leroy, who oversees Toyota's business planning and operations.
Toyota is very invested in love. The automaker has a central philosophy of making vehicles that inspire'Aisha,' a concept that literally means "beloved car" in Japanese. But the nature of'Aisha' is changing, necessarily, just at the nature of automobiles themselves are fundamentally changing as we usher in automated and semi-autonomous driving. The key to making'Aisha' work in this new era, Toyota believes, lies in using artificial intelligence to broaden its definition, and to transform cars from something that people are merely interested in and passionate about, into something that people can actually bond with – and even come to think of as a partner. To create a bond between a person and a car that's more than just skin (or topcoat) deep, Toyota believes that learning and understanding drivers, combined with automated driving, and an AI agent that's more companion than virtual assistant, is key.
The advent of autonomous vehicles may not be all doom and gloom for the automotive industry as some have predicted, senior enterprise architect at Toyota Australia's Information Systems Division David Johnston-Bell has said. Speaking at Informatica's Data Disruption Summit on Wednesday, Johnston-Bell said there are reports suggesting that autonomous vehicles could significantly reduce personal car ownership -- possibly by 80 to 90 percent. Even Jacinta Hargan, director of the Future Transport Program at Transport for NSW, said the state government's future transport technology roadmap is based on four potential "futures", one of which centres on the idea that people will share ownership of connected and autonomous vehicles, and another where vehicle ownership is no longer important. While projections are "useful for scenario planning", they can be quite premature, Johnston-Bell told ZDNet. "I think it's great that we can say, 'what can happen in the world if 90 percent of the cars disappear?'
Toyota Motor Corp. is set to unveil a fuel cell concept car that aims to offer 50 percent more driving range than its current hydrogen-powered sedan in a technology push that defies a rising wave of battery-powered vehicles. The nation's biggest auto manufacturer is targeting a 1,000-km (620-mile) range for the Fine-Comfort Ride concept saloon under local standards, compared with about 650 km for the current Mirai fuel cell vehicle, according to a statement Wednesday. The concept car, to be introduced at the Tokyo Motor Show next week, will include artificial intelligence and automated driving features. Toyota is continuing to champion fuel cell vehicles as the ultimate zero-emission cars, even as the falling cost of lithium-ion batteries have lured a majority of automakers to plug-in technology in the face of ever more stringent environmental standards worldwide. China, the world's largest market, said last month that it was working on a timeline to end the sale of internal-combustion vehicles, joining countries including France, India and the U.K. While Japan has created a Hydrogen Society Roadmap to increase the number of fuel cell vehicles on its roads to 40,000 by 2020, there are currently just 2,200 or so.
The debate over whether technology is changing the world for good or bad is unlikely to ever be definitively won by either camp. However, few would argue that technological advances that promise traffic-related deaths dropping from 1.3 million a year to zero could be considered as anything but a positive development. That's exactly what Gill Pratt, chief executive of the Toyota Research Institute, believes will be the result of the impending transition to driverless cars. Using the analogy of two iconic photographs of New York's Fifth Avenue, one taken in 1905 and one in 1913, Pratt believes that this technology-based traffic utopia could happen much more quickly than any of us imagine. Talking at an open doors presentation at Toyota's Brussels R&D centre, Pratt demonstrated how quickly the age of the automobile manifested itself in central New York.
Toyota will be highlighting an array of experimental technologies aimed at improving safety and anticipating drivers' desires at the Tokyo Motor Show later this month. Toyota Motor Corp. manager Makoto Okabe told reporters Monday that the use of artificial intelligence means cars may get to know drivers as human beings by analyzing their facial expressions, driving habits and social media use. Such a vehicle might adjust drivers' seats to calm them when they're feeling anxious, or jiggle them to make them more alert when they seem sleepy. It might also suggest a stop at a noodle joint along the way. Despite concerns over potential intrusions into privacy, many automakers will be displaying prototypes of such technologies at the auto show which opens to the public Oct. 28.
Toyota and Mazda will build a $1.6 billion U.S. assembly plant, adding up to 4,000 new jobs. Toyota will be highlighting an array of experimental technologies aimed at improving safety and anticipating drivers' desires at the Tokyo Motor Show later this month. Toyota Motor Corp. manager Makoto Okabe told reporters Monday that the use of artificial intelligence means cars may get to know drivers as human beings by analyzing their facial expressions, driving habits and social media use. Such a vehicle might adjust drivers' seats to calm them when they're feeling anxious or jiggle them to make them more alert when they seem sleepy. It might also suggest a stop at a noodle joint along the way.
Sure, the grey-haired bigwigs have started to catch on to the big trends--electricity, automation, connectedness--but if this week's news is any indication, it's the youth leading the charge. From the 22-year-old laser genius to the self-driving pioneer who fell from grace to the college kids rethinking America's favorite ride, the kids have had a wild seven days. He's had a wild ride in recent years, building a self-driving motorcycle, helping launch Google's autonomy project, and now, getting caught in the center of a barnstormer of a lawsuit between Google and Uber. A minor mystery in the auto world is why Toyota, after making the world's first popular hybrid (the Prius), didn't capitalize on its technological lead to surge into fully electric cars.