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BMW Is Looking at Ways to Use Artificial Intelligence in Vehicle Design

2023 BMW X3 M Competition
Photo: D.Boshouwers
BMW is adamant, however: it won't let AI guide the model design process Automotive expert , Updated:

BMW confirmed this week that it is studying the potential of Artificial Intelligence as a support in the vehicle design process.

Talk of artificial intelligence (AI) is everywhere these days, not least because of the emergence of bots capable of writing texts, holding conversations, delivering advice and so on. 

In fact, the possibilities of AI seem limitless, which worries many. However, like any new technology, it can be interesting if used wisely. 

BMW is looking at ways to put AI to good use. The German automaker says it has begun experimenting with automotive design using artificial intelligence. Adrian van Hooydonk, BMW's head of design, recently said in an interview that AI had already been used in various design tasks.

“We are experimenting with it in design, for instance in wheel design,” van Hooydonk told TopGear. “You can set a few parameters – like, you want a five-spoke wheel, it should only weigh this much, it should be a 20-inch rim – and then the computer begins to generate ideas for you.”

The natural fear that arises from this kind of innovation is that AI could actually replace humans in the entire process. In this case, however, the idea is that AI can be used to take human-developed concepts a step further. BMW says it has no intention of letting AI take over the entire design process.

Added van Hooydink, “as a person, as a human being, you need to be the art director. You need to pick. You still have to guide the process – it's not like the computer can completely invent things, but it can combine various parameters into a proposal much quicker than a human being.”

2023 BMW XM
2023 BMW XM
Photo: BMW

The day when AI will be able to design a car from A to Z is a long way off. In fact, it's hard to imagine, because AI uses what's already been created to imagine new things; it doesn't have the inventiveness of the human brain to come up with things that don't exist. 

At least for the time being. And let us reassure you, it wasn't a computer that came up with what you’ve just read about BMW and its use of AI.