The integration of multimodal large language models (MLLM) in autonomous driving is changing the landscape of automotive technology and transportation. Recently a paper “Exploring Multimodal Large Language Models for Autonomous Driving” presents a comprehensive survey of recent advances in MLLM, focusing in particular on their application in autonomous driving systems.
MLLMs, which combine linguistic and visual information processing capabilities, are emerging as key enablers for the development of autonomous driving systems. These models improve vehicle perception, decision making, and human-vehicle interaction by using large-scale data learning of traffic scenes and rules.
Development of autonomous driving
The journey towards autonomous driving has been marked by significant technological advances. Early efforts in the late 20th century, such as the Autonomous Land Vehicle project, laid the foundations for current systems. The past two decades have seen improvements in sensor accuracy, computing power, and deep learning algorithms, leading to advances in autonomous driving systems.
The future of autonomous driving
Recent research by ARK Investment Management LLC accents the transformative potential of autonomous vehicles, especially autonomous taxis, on the global economy. ARK research predicts a significant boost to global gross domestic product (GDP) due to the advent of autonomous vehicles, estimating an increase of approximately 20% over the next decade. This forecast is based on a variety of factors, including the potential for reduced accident rates and lower transportation costs. The introduction of autonomous taxis or robotics is expected to have a profound impact on GDP. ARK estimates that net GDP gains could reach $26 trillion by 2030. That’s significant, amounting to about 26% of the current size of the US economy. ARK’s analysis shows that autonomous taxis could be one of the most impactful technological innovations in history, potentially adding 2-3 percentage points to global GDP annually by 2030. This impact exceeds the combined contributions of the steam engine, robots and IT to the economy . Consumers are likely to benefit from reduced transportation costs and increased purchasing power.
Role of MLLM in autonomous driving
MLLMs are critical in various aspects of autonomous driving:
Perception: MLLMs improve the interpretation of complex visual environments, translating visual data into textual representations for improved understanding.
Planning and control: MLLMs facilitate user-centric communication, allowing passengers to express their intentions in natural language. They also assist in high-level decision making for route planning and vehicle control.
Human-Vehicle Interaction: MLLM advances personalized human-vehicle interaction by integrating voice commands and analyzing user preferences.
Challenges and opportunities
Despite their potential, the application of MLLMs in autonomous driving systems presents unique challenges, mainly due to the need to integrate inputs from different modalities such as images, 3D point clouds, and HD maps. Addressing these challenges requires large-scale, diverse datasets and advances in hardware and software technologies.
MLLMs hold significant promise for transforming autonomous driving, offering enhanced capabilities for perception, planning, control and interaction. Future research directions include developing robust datasets, improving hardware support for real-time processing, and refining models for comprehensive environmental understanding and interaction.
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