The race is on. Literally! In the world of AI (artificial intelligence) there are a lot of exciting companies making their mark in a pretty impressive way in the automotive industry. Some of these disruptive startups are truly giving us all a glimpse of where the AI market is headed.

Ford and its Ford City Insights program, which uses its AI and data from traffic cameras, parking garages, and other sources to share mobility-related information is a perfect example. This AI-powered database is able to predict where collisions are more likely to happen or where microtransit solutions will be most valuable within city limits.

The company piloted its platform in Ann Arbor, Mich., and it’s expanding the use of the City Insights platform toolset to six more cities. Three of the six new cities are Austin, Indianapolis, and Detroit, and reports suggest the other three will be Miami, Pittsburgh, and Grand Rapids. By leveraging parking, transit, traffic, safety, and census data, Ford says the platform allows city planners to visualize their entire mobility ecosystem.

This helps them explore various solutions before implementing them in the real world. One of Ann Arbor’s goals during the pilot was to evaluate its existing parking infrastructure. People were saying parking is a problem, and the city wanted to know: do we have enough spaces? What’s the nature of the problem, exactly? That way, they can go about fixing the problem.

Thanks to the data-derived insights from the pilot, the city determined it actually does have enough parking. It just needs to invest in solutions that will help direct people to those open spots.

With this platform, cities can access not only police reports of traffic collisions, but also near misses—like when someone slams on the breaks but avoids a crash—thanks to connected vehicle data. With this additional data, city planners have a more complete picture of where in a city they need to focus their efforts to improve traffic safety.

Also, this month in the automotive space, Kia Motors contributed a big chunk toward a $25 million funding round for Code42.ai, an AI startup that’s developing an autonomous transportation-as-a-service platform.

Code42.ai’s platform is called UMOS (urban mobility operating system), and it’s working to integrate future mobility options including shopping, fast delivery, and transportation. UMOS integrates self-driving cars, drones, and automated delivery robots to provide mobility services.

Hyundai Motor is also an investor for this exciting startup. It will be interesting to see what they come up with in this partnership. Ultimately, if all goes well, these strategic partnerships will help companies to collaborate on developing fleet and mobility systems, connected services, and more efficient self-driving cars.

Pony.ai is another transportation and AI-related company that I have my eye on. This Chinese company has been testing PonyPilot, a RoboTaxi pilot service, in China. This summer, Pony.ai and Toyota teamed up on an autonomous driving pilot, which began in September on public roads in Beijing and Shanghai.

What’s going to be interesting to watch is how this company stacks up against its Google competitor in the U.S., Waymo. It appears to be planning a pilot in the U.S., because it got permits for RoboTaxi operation in California this summer.

AI in the automotive space has been in the headlines a lot, as new startups pop up to prove they can increase efficiency and offer greater value add and more optimization. Without a doubt, these are certainly interesting times for AI and automotive.

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