No more roundabouts

There are different types of drivers, and though many of us would like to be considered the Jenson Button of the Great British roads the reality is often quite different. We have the instant beepers, the ambiguous lane choosers, the pedal pushers, the bass boomers, the cigarette butt flickers, the brake slammers, the nervy learners, the elderly swervers, the slow coaches, the phone-at-the-wheelers, the accident onlookers, and then ourselves, the self-proclaimed best drivers in the world.

As well as varying in quality, our preferences as drivers differ too, and artificially intelligent software tailored to every individual may enable a smoother journey.

Take a case study of ‘Family X’, who wish to share either the same SatNav or SatNav technology in order to make their own driving experiences better. Every member of the family differs in preferences and qualities as drivers, and therefore requires different technology to aid their own travels.

Firstly, ‘Mr.X’ likes to think of himself as quite the boy racer and therefore he prefers quicker roads and detests sitting in traffic. While current SatNav technology can provide traffic updates via internet connection, with the development of Natural Language Interaction (NLI) these systems may one day be able to intelligently interact. So, for instance, during rush hour the SatNav may identify the driving speed has been lowered and the movement of the car has become more sporadic, and therefore may question Mr. X if he wishes to avoid the route in the future.

The SatNav, understanding his response, may then be able to ask another suitable question, for example times of the day to avoid said route, or instances when it is acceptable to drive that course. By building up knowledge of his preferred routes, and asking him questions in order to collate a memory of Mr. X’s type of driving, he may never need to be stuck in traffic again.

Next we have ‘Mrs.X’, who despises hills and busy junctions, prefers a quieter more scenic route, and considers reverse parking her ultimate nemesis. The first problem encountered is, of course, recognition of who is driving, as Mr.X’s preferences are vastly different from his female counterpart. This is easily addressed by NLI whereby the SatNav will learn to recognise different users by questioning who is driving the car once the key is turned in the ignition, and listening to and computing the response intelligently.

In natural speech, responses to one question may be articulated in a number of forms, so with the aid of artificial intelligence, a SatNav could potentially recognise a variety of answers or statements. Potentially, the SatNav could therefore question who is driving, and recognise responses such as simply ‘Mrs. X’ to the ramblings between family members, arguing over who should drive, and adhere to the conclusion of the debate. Very much like accounts on a computer, the SatNav will then adopt all of the learnt behaviours and instructions of that particular driver.

For Mrs. X, the SatNav may question why she has turned from the most direct route, and learn from her responses that it perhaps has a steep hill, too many traffic lights or involves reverse parking. From instances such as these, the SatNav will theoretically, in the future, avoid specific gradients, routes and car parks globally, as well as locally, when Mrs. X is driving.

Finally, ‘Miss. X’, has recently passed her test, and therefore wants to keep her brand-spanking new car scratch free, and likes to avoid junctions that are confusing. Of course, as a newly qualified driver, Miss. X may not appreciate the complexity of a certain roundabout until it is too late and she is desperately navigating its treacherous lanes.

With Natural Language Interaction technology, Miss. X may be able to declare after a specific junction that she wishes to avoid it in the future, and with the memory of artificial intelligence this can be possible. The SatNav may ask Miss. X why and when to avoid said junction, save the information it receives and use it in the future to ensure maximum safety for the driver. From a series of deductive questions, the SatNav may build a catalogue particularly tailored to Miss. X’s driving needs, and thus make her driving more enjoyable and safer.

Cars are essential to modern life, accounting for 70% of all journeys not made on foot. Car ownership in Britain is at an all time high, and therefore the potential link between SatNav technology and artificial intelligence will play a key part as the world becomes an increasingly mobile one. This form of technology could even be extended into public transport services, with a growing consciousness amongst travellers regarding emissions and greener means of travel.

Ultimately, this technological advance will make driving safer and a more pleasurable and personal experience, where drivers can be assured their SatNav is working just as hard as them on the roads.


Andy, who lives with his family in the UK, is Chief Marketing & Strategy Officer at Artificial Solutions. A regular speaker at industry conferences and events, Andy delivers insight on the rise of AI, the challenges businesses face and the future of intelligent conversational applications.

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