While today it's enough to say "Hey" to interact with modern cars, in the years to come the link between drivers and vehicles will be even closer, almost emotional. This is the future predicted by the Luiss Business School's Car and Mobility Observatory, in a world that, with the development of artificial intelligence, will see the advent of what is known as the 'Auto Sapiens'.

A play on words that sums up the evolution of four-wheelers thanks to the integration of AI, the Auto Sapiens is described as a "vehicle capable of interacting with the user and the context, processing information, learning and acting autonomously according to modalities and criteria similar to those of a human being".

"It can in fact rely on increasingly powerful software and computing units, both on-board and accessible thanks to connectivity that considerably expands its decision-making capacity, offering unprecedented customisation possibilities that will soon be transferable to different vehicles and in different spheres of experience."

From automatic emergency braking to anti-sleep alerts and the management of ethical and legal issues, technologies will increasingly enter what the Observatory also calls 'software-defined vehicles' (SDVs), which will account for 90% of the market by 2030, up from 3.4% in 2021.

Scientific Director Fabio Orecchini presents the study

Between privacy and the environment

This new frontier of mobility opens the door to sales of $30 billion a year by the end of the decade, with an annual growth rate of 20-30%, but also to a series of challenges.

Firstly, the preservation and protection of the data collected by the cars of tomorrow. Secondly, the impact on the environment, since the servers powering Auto Sapiens will consume between 85 and 134 TWh of energy by 2027.

The increase in computing power and its thirst for energy," concludes the analysis, "could therefore compromise the industry's efforts to reduce CO2 requirements and emissions. Indeed, the intelligent car requires a lot of on-board energy and increasingly large and powerful clouds and supercomputers, the consumption of which already accounts for around 1 to 1.3% of global electricity consumption (which translates into 1% of total CO2 emissions) and is expected to triple by 2030."

The identity of Auto Sapiens

The one foreshadowed by the Observatory's analysis is therefore a highly electrified car, i.e. with electric or rechargeable hybrid drive, wireless devices and by-wire driving systems, equipped with facial recognition of occupants, gesture controls activated by body movements, interactive voice assistance, biometric climate control, and an active and interactive information processing system in relation to all reference infrastructures.

"The 'Automobile sapiens' is not only capable of learning, it is also capable of creating a relationship with man through the realm of emotions. It will be able to read the mood of those on board. But will it itself be able to generate emotion?