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AI aiding cities to reduce car dependency and promote sustainable transportation

sustainabable transportation

Artificial intelligence (AI) is emerging as a promising tool for city transport authorities aiming to enhance mobility, reduce pollution, and achieve carbon emissions reduction targets. Will Cavendish, Global Digital Services Leader at consultancy Arup, highlights the role of AI in revolutionizing the assessment and improvement of city transport networks. Arup’s City Modelling Lab utilizes AI to simulate real-life travel choices more accurately and rapidly, moving beyond traditional modeling that relies on assumptions about average behavior.

How does AI help?

The AI tools developed by Arup allow authorities to not only identify transport choices but also understand the reasons behind those choices and their impact on the entire network. By incorporating data and cloud computing, these simulations help authorities comprehend shifts in travel behavior, policy decisions, and the effects of city planning and transport schemes. The goal is to make more informed and sustainable decisions that promote equitable transportation.

Arup has implemented its AI modeling with transport authorities globally, including in the UK, the Republic of Ireland, the United States, and New Zealand. The technology facilitates the exemplification of transport choices and trade-offs, offering a more nuanced understanding of the factors influencing people’s decisions.

While AI’s potential in modeling and decision-making for city mobility networks is recognized, fully commercialized and live use cases are currently limited. Challenges such as the need for high-quality, abundant data from various sources and privacy concerns have slowed progress in the sector, according to Cavendish.

More players in the same space

Startups like Optibus, an Israeli company focusing on AI for public transport planning and operations, are leveraging technology to make public transport more efficient and reliable. Optibus’s AI software platform, launched in 2014, is now used in 4,000 cities globally, with significant adoption in the past year. The platform streamlines bus planning and operations, improving reliability and reducing carbon emissions by encouraging more people to use public transport.

Another Israeli innovator, NoTraffic, addresses traffic flow issues through AI technology that adjusts traffic signals based on real-time data. By retrofitting existing infrastructure with cameras, radar, and AI, NoTraffic helps city authorities reduce congestion and enhance safety at intersections.

The article also introduces Vay, a Berlin-based startup developing an alternative solution to autonomous vehicles. Vay’s model involves teledrivers remotely controlling shared cars, offering an on-demand mobility solution that could potentially reduce private car ownership.

While AI’s operational use in city mobility is in its early stages, its potential to disrupt traditional models of private car use and enhance sustainability is gaining attention. City transport authorities are increasingly recognizing the importance of digital technologies and data, with the emergence of roles like chief data digital officers to harness the opportunities presented by breakthroughs in AI and data analytics.

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