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Technological Advances Work to Improve Urban Transportation

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Technological Advances Work to Improve Urban Transportation
Rush Holt, left, and Chetan Gupta field questions from the audience at the close of a lecture examining the future of global mobility. | Chris Bernacchi

Innovative technologies are being used to take on the growing global challenge of moving people and products from one place to the next in expanding urban areas, according to a recent presentation at the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Chetan Gupta, chief data scientist and architect at the Industrial AI Lab at Hitachi America R&D, outlined how data analytics, machine learning and artificial intelligence are among technologies being employed to address inefficiencies and safety problems throughout the transportation sector.

Gupta’s “Smart Mobility: Embracing Technological Advances to Propel Future Growth” presentation at AAAS headquarters on Sept. 5 was this year’s second AAAS-Hitachi Lecture on Science and Society. The lecture series is a decade-long collaboration between AAAS and Hitachi, Ltd., the global technology and innovation company.

Urban areas will dominate approximately 86% of the developed world and 64% of the developing world in little more than three decades, Gupta said. Studies also predict that the world’s aging population will climb to 2.1 billion by 2050. Both factors are predicted to impact mobility worldwide.

“Think about the problem with commuting not just in the developed world, but also in the developing world,” Gupta said. Pointing to congestion in the United States, he said that traffic in Santa Clara, California, the location of the Hitachi AI lab, outpaces Washington, D.C.’s notorious gridlock.

Technological advances from smart phones to the Internet of Things have made the world more connected, and such growing connectivity is shifting societal expectations. Communities increasingly demand to be able to get from point A to point B ever more swiftly and that products and services be delivered without delay. “All of these factors impact how cities work,” Gupta said.

Such pressures involve an array of industries that build transportation equipment, including those that offer commuters multiple options for getting around by car, bus, subway, taxi, electric bicycle, airplane or today’s growing ride-hailing services.

“There are so many modes of transportation. There are so many corporations out there. So, how do you put a structure on this question of mobility to understand it and work on the problem?” asked Gupta.

To ensure innovative technologies can tackle the issues facing each segment of the transportation sector, Gupta segregates mobility into four sections – those that produce everything from automobiles to airplanes; those that operate equipment; companies and institutions that interact with customers such as airlines; and individuals who are the end users.

Corporations from Ford and Toyota to Boeing and Hitachi build equipment that provides various forms of mobility, including modes for personal use, public transportation, freight suppliers, air travel and industrial operations. Each category is under pressure from a growing and aging world population and the expanding e-commerce industry that recently topped $1 trillion, Gupta said.

“We are in the middle of a revolution in transportation,” said Kenichiro Mizoguchi, general manager of Hitachi, Ltd. Corporate Offices, in Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles. He said the use of artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things are driving innovations being pursued by Gupta’s team. “They are fundamentally changing the transportation industry while reducing energy consumption, harmful pollution and automobile fatalities.”

Rush Holt, CEO of AAAS and executive publisher of the Science family of journals, invited the audience to consider the many peripheral issues raised by scientific advances in an area that fundamentally impacts society.

“We are always looking at interdisciplinary activities, multi-disciplinary activities and dimensions of science that go beyond the laboratory and the computer into society,” Holt said.

[Associated image: Chris Bernacchi]

Author

Anne Q. Hoy