Documenting the Coming Singularity

Monday, July 09, 2007

Letting AIs Take the Wheel

Smart Wheels

As Ray Kurzweil like to say, "People keep asking me, where is all the AI I've been hearing about? That's like visiting the rain forest and asking where are all the different species? when there are 50 different species of ants within 50 feet of them. AI is so deeply embedded in the environment that you don't see it but it's all around you." Well, pretty soon it'll be in the wheels of your car.

Scientists at the University Portsmouth have been using the latest advances in artificial intelligence to make "the world's first thinking wheel."
University scientists are providing the artificial intelligence systems for the wheels on the company's prototype eco-friendly electric super-car. The wheels use microcomputers to perform 4000 calculations per second and 'talk' to each other. The wheels use AI to think and learn as the car is being driven, making calculations and adjustments according to travelling speed and road conditions.

It is the first time artificial intelligence has replaced fundamental mechanics within a motor vehicle and will mean tighter control, a smoother ride and a safer drive, yet the driver remains in control of the car.

"Conventional wisdom says you can't reinvent the wheel. We have done just that. We have taken the wheel, given it brains and the ability to think and learn. It's a huge breakthrough," said Dr David Brown of the University of Portsmouth's Institute of Industrial Research.

Artificial Intelligence controls the suspension, steering and breaking systems, teaching it to adapt to bends in the road, potholes and other potential hazards, and compensating by adjusting the car's reactions. The information is retained in the computer's memory and used the next time the car encounters similar road conditions. The car is learning as it drives and adapting its performance accordingly.

Will the AIs controlling your car's wheels suddenly decide to drive you where they want to go rather than the destination you had in mind? Well, that probably won't happen for a while yet. Stay tuned.

[via Herself's AI]

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