EV AI developments to be captured by European Parliament legislation
The EU is drawing up the AI Act, which will introduce unprecedented regulation around the use of artificial intelligence for European EVs
The future of artificial intelligence (AI) within Europe’s EV industry could be set to for dramatic change at the hands of the European Parliament, which is currently discussing the terms of new legislation which will define the parameters of AI use across the EU.
The AI Act, specific terms of which are promised to be finalised by the end of 2023, is claimed by the Parliament to be the ‘world’s first comprehensive AI law’. Its many possible restrictions could significantly limit the use of both AI and its offshoot, machine learning (ML), in EVs for major European OEMs and others building vehicles in or for Europe.
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There will be many facets to the legislation, but the EU has said that “AI systems that negatively affect safety or fundamental rights” are considered within the ‘high risk’ category, which consists of “products falling under the EU’s product safety legislation”. “This includes toys, aviation, cars, medical devices and lifts,” says the European Parliament.
European OEMs and AI
From automated driving to interactive marketing campaigns, AI has become a frontline player in the world of EVs. For example, German OEM Mercedes-Benz uses its self-developed Intelligent Park Pilot service to integrate driverless parking into any of its equipped EQS Saloon and S‑Class Saloon models.
JLR, the UK subsidiary of India’s Tata Motors, announced earlier this year its partnership with Everstream AI, which will use predictive insights to support its supply chain. This seems like something where the industry could expect the Parliament to take a fairly hands-off approach.
But autonomous driving (AD), on which many European OEMs are working and non-European OEMs will also hope to introduce to the continent, is likely a different matter. JLR also began a joint venture with chipmaker Nvidia in 2022, which will produce a software platform allowing for AD in all new models by 2025. And Amsterdam-headquartered Stellantis has promised deploying three all-new, AI-powered technology platforms from 2024, primarily using its own Stla software.
There have also been significant developments in the world of ML, a version of AI that focuses more specifically on engineering and manufacturing. Just last year, University of Cambridge researchers published discovery of an ML algorithm which serves as a “non-invasive way to probe batteries and get a holistic view of battery health”.
“This method could unlock value in so many parts of the supply chain, whether you are a manufacturer, an end user, or a recycler, because it allows us to capture the health of the battery beyond a single number, and because it is predictive,” says lead researcher Alpha Lee.
“It could reduce the time it takes to develop new types of batteries, because we will be able to predict how they will degrade under different operating conditions.” Again, the industry would seem justified in hoping that there is limited possibility of this falling into the 'high risk' category.
A petition letter for the EU Commission has been drawn up and signed by more than 150 companies, including French OEM Renault, as well as German engineering heavyweight Siemens and plane maker Airbus. The letter warns that “regulation could lead to highly innovative companies moving their activities abroad,” with the objective of the European Parliament revising some potentially harsher restrictions.
Perhaps these powerful voices will sway these policies their way; there has already been mention of protecting technological innovation in business during EU debates.
“We do not condemn artificial intelligence itself, but risky practices,” says Susana Solis Perez, rapporteur for the opinion of the committee on industry, research and energy. “We are also clear that we need a flexible law that encourages innovation, that gives companies certainty and that can quickly adapt to the spectacular advancement of technology, as we have seen in the development of generative AI with ChatGPT, where time is pressing for us to establish requirements for transparency and safe use.”