Technology often strikes a fine line between innovation and laziness. Voice-activated assistants like Amazon Alexa, for example, aim to make the simplest of tasks even easier – like writing to-do lists or operating the lights in your home. But there are also some very clever bits of tech that go far beyond what we are capable of.
Artificial intelligence (AI) image generators are among the latter. Starting with nothing but a simple text prompt, these tools analyse tens of millions of existing images online and create their own brand-new image based on their findings from similarly labelled content.
To test AI’s capability in understanding the automotive industry, we tasked an image generator with recreating several real-world cars, and then surveyed Brits on how recognisable the generations were.
The Single-Most Recognised AI Image Was Of A Porsche 911
The AI image generator’s take on a Porsche 911 was far and away the most recognised of our study, with a huge 81% of respondents picking it out of a line-up.
With its signature round headlights and long, swooping silhouette – a design that’s remained virtually unchanged since the first model in 1964 – the AI tool had little trouble recreating the 911.
It wasn’t just those features that the clever tech picked up on, however. When tasked with creating the latest edition of the 911, using only ‘Porsche 911 2022’ as a prompt, it correctly spotted the finer details – like the air intakes surrounding the reg plate and subtle lines stretching the length of the bonnet.
Half Of Brits Recognise Car Images Created By AI Tech
On average, half of all respondents (50%) correctly identified the makes and models we tasked the AI image generator with creating. From common favourites like the Fiat 500 to recent releases, such as the Honda e, the AI tech was so capable of creating accurate images that the most selected answer in each of our survey questions was the correct one.
However, some of the surveyed images were much more recognisable than others. This demonstrates the AI’s ability to pick up on the telltale signs of a popular model, like the Tesla Model 3’s minimalist design and grille-less front end.
The AI-Generated Nissan Leaf Was Among The Least Recognised
Despite the majority of respondents (33%) correctly recognising the AI generator’s attempt at a Nissan Leaf, many struggled. A quarter of those surveyed (25%) believed the AI tool was recreating a Toyota Corolla, while 22% were left totally stumped by the image and couldn’t identify it as any model.
On sale in the UK from 2011, over a decade ago, the Leaf is largely credited as being the first mainstream electric vehicle (EV). With the huge strides in the electrification of motoring since then, you’d perhaps expect the car that started it all to be more distinguishable.
Brits Are Still Much More Familiar With Traditional Cars Than They Are Electric
The Nissan was only a fraction more recognisable than the BMW iX, which was correctly identified by 32% of respondents, and then the Honda e by 31%.
In fact, only one of the all-electric models attempted by the AI image generator was correctly picked out by more than half of those surveyed (51%) – the Tesla Model 3. But, as the very first EV to top one million sales, that’s maybe not surprising. The Model 3 also racks up 255,000 online searches every month.
Tesla’s highly anticipated Cybertruck didn’t score so well, with only 42% of respondents identifying the corresponding AI image.
By comparison, the average recognition rate of the petrol and diesel models in our research is 63% – meaning more than six in ten respondents correctly identified them.
An Artificially Created Fiat 500 Is More Recognisable Than A Lamborghini
Despite Lambo being one of the more sought-after brands, with aggressive styling that distinguishes it from others on the road, the results show a much more common car tops it based on the number of Brits who recognised it.
Below the Porsche 911, the next most recognisable AI images are the Fiat 500, with 69% of Brits correctly identifying it, and Lamborghini Aventador by 68%.
The AI Tech Struggled Recreating The Bestselling Vauxhall Corsa
The Vauxhall Corsa is currently the UK’s bestselling new car, with 24,333 registrations in 2022 alone. However, the AI tool struggled to translate that real-world popularity into a recognisable recreation, with the results showing the AI Corsa image as one of the least recognised in our survey.
Less than half of Brits (49%) recognised the image as a Corsa, with almost two in ten (18%) believing it was instead a Suzuki Swift, and 15% believing the image didn’t match any of the multiple-choice answers. Only the Nissan Qashqai was less recognised among the petrol and diesel models, with 48% of respondents picking it out.
Still, although the AI-generated Corsa and Qashqai models fell short of the average recognition rate for petrol and diesel cars (63%), they were still the most popular answers in each of their survey questions – proving the AI technology does a decent job at creating images from just a few inputted words.
Vanarama used an AI image generator to recreate ten car models using only the model names and editions – e.g. ‘Porsche 911 2022’. The AI images were then used in a 2,001-person survey, in which respondents were presented with each image and asked to correctly identify the car model that the AI image generator had attempted.