Andy Rubin’s Playground working on AI dashcam

10 Feb 2016

Since leaving Google in 2014, it seems Andy Rubin, with his latest venture, Playground, has been tinkering around with the idea of creating a dashcam for cars powered by advanced AI technology.

Andy Rubin co-founded Playground as a jack-of-all-trades start-up with elements taken from incubators and accelerators, as well as some of the top staff from Google, Apple et al that he would have worked with at some point, and now has some big plans for AI.

Speaking in-depth with Wired, Rubin makes it clear that his obsession with all-things robotics remains, with his musings on AI, in particular, revealing that he and Playground believe that, in order for AI to really make an impact, it needs to be out in the real word, so to speak.

This, he later reveals, will begin with the company working on a new dashcam that will essentially act as a giant data vacuum for whatever it sees in front of it.

Dashcams have grown in popularity worldwide for regular drivers who are looking for extra security in case of a future accident, particularly in Russia, where there is limited insurance for drivers.

The idea, it seems, is that Playground would develop an AI-powered camera that would be placed at the front of your car at no cost, but it would reap huge financial rewards due to the sheer amount of data it would collect from what the car sees.

Free dashcam, priceless data

In theory, this data could then be used for services like live traffic updates,  and to provide information on road condition and weather, which would play into the major mapping software providers, like Google Maps.

Something of this scale raises a number of questions over security, particularly given the wariness surrounding any free service that’s offered in exchange for access to your data, but Rubin did not touch on that subject during his interview.

While he said that Playground is working on a number of other secret devices, he did add some interesting insights about the internet of things (IoT), in saying that he believes the major tech companies are going about it all wrong.

In his view, rather than companies building an ecosystem in which their smart devices can actually communicate, he offers the ‘build it and they will come’ approach, advocating first building the devices, then the ecosystem will follow.

Dashcam image via Yuri Stroykin/Shutterstock

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic