Kia Uses AI to Personalize Driver Experiences and Improve Safety

Keeping Customers Safe When Behind the Wheel

Artificial intelligence is transforming the automotive industry—both on the assembly line and behind the wheel. Fully autonomous vehicles are getting closer to reality, and semi-autonomous technologies that enhance rather than replace drivers are already appearing in cars today.


Consumer interest in these capabilities is soaring. According to Grand View Research, the advanced driver-assistance system (ADAS) market is expected to grow from $14.15 billion in 2016 to $67.43 billion globally by 2025.1 AI-enabled driver assistance includes everything from blind-spot detection to autonomous emergency braking.

Kia Motors, the oldest automobile manufacturer in South Korea, builds more than 3 million vehicles a year for customers in 180 countries. In addition to external-facing sensors that assist with automatic braking and lane departure warnings, Kia is using computer vision inside the cabin to better understand and assist drivers. Using AI technology like Amazon Rekognition for advanced image and video analysis allows Kia to offer driver-assistance features like personalized mirror and seat positioning for different people behind the wheel.

For Kia, AI services for computer vision on Amazon Web Services (AWS) are embedded directly in the in-car system. With Amazon Rekognition, image and video data about the driver, such as changes in emotion, for example if the driver is smiling or looks tired, as well as environment data, is analyzed in real time.

“Recognizing who the driver is and who the passenger is, and then automatically creating their vehicle preferences is a simple way for KIA to use artificial intelligence in new ways,” says Hyungjoon Oh, Researcher for Hyundai Motors R&D. “AI technology like Amazon Rekognition allows us to seamlessly personalize the driving experience for our customers. It’s as simple as the driver uploading their photo when they purchase the vehicle, and then the in-car camera recognizes the driver and automatically sets the preferences.”

Beyond personalization, Kia is also applying AI to improve driver and road safety. According to a report by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are approximately 6,000 fatalities each year in the U.S. due to drivers falling asleep at the wheel. Driving under the influence (DUI) results in another 10,000 fatalities a year in the U.S. 

"We want to serve our customers in every situation we can, and this solution provides more ways to keep our customers safe when they are behind the wheel."

Hyungjoon Oh
Researcher
Hyundai Motors R&D

"We want to serve our customers in every situation we can, and this solution provides more ways to keep our customers safe when they are behind the wheel."

Hyungjoon Oh
Researcher
Hyundai Motors R&D

Improving driver safety using AI is a hard problem to solve. There are sensors to gather information about the driver’s environment including pedestrians, buildings and other moving objects. High-performance processors are needed to manage the inputs and controls. And machine learning algorithms are core to building the intelligence to help cars make recommendations to drivers or perform autonomously.

Kia’s goal is to use AI technology to enable in-car DUI detection, as well as to monitor driver fatigue, in order to help reduce fatality rates. For example, the in-car system may recommend not starting the car at all if intoxication is detected, switching to autonomous-driving mode to safely pull the car over to the side of the road if driver fatigue is detected. Or the in-car system may recommend switching to manual driving mode if there is extreme weather or missing lane markers on the road.

“The number of fatalities resulting from distracted driving is something we feel artificial intelligence, in particular computer vision, could help remediate,” Oh says. “As a car company, we don’t want our customer service to stop when a vehicle has been purchased. We want to serve our customers in every situation we can, and this solution provides more ways to keep our customers safe when they are behind the wheel.”

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