Why not let AI manage traffic?

It's doable in the near future, though more computing power than we have now will be required

easwaran

SB Easwaran | January 7, 2019 | Delhi


#coding   #traffic signal   #traffic   #AI   #algorithm  
Illustration: Ashish Asthana
Illustration: Ashish Asthana

In a J.G. Ballard short story called *The Subliminal Man*, the expressways have rubber studs, spaced progressively apart in the lanes for 40, 50, 60, and 70 miles per hour. The tyre treads and the studs intermesh to produce a smooth hum only if the vehicle moves at the exact lane speed. Driving faster or slower causes severe juddering, painful to the driver and passengers and harmful to the vehicle. The idea is high on wow quotient. But it belongs in the sci-fi imagination of the electromechanical 1960s.

 
Today, it is not impossible to imagine artificial intelligence as the overarching means by which traffic will be managed in the future. With digital sensors, governors, and GPS systems on all vehicles and roads, self-learning algorithms would process and respond to each situation. The vehicles, of course, would be self-driving. Futurists will agree this can easily be achieved. What's lacking is the enormous processing power required. Quantum computing could well make it available before the end of the 21st century.

Think

AI-based self-learning algorithms are already helping stock-brokers make money
. . .
It’s doable in the near future, though more computing power than we have now will be required
. . .
One of the biggest pains of city life will be alleviated

 
In a very broad sense and on a very small scale, aggregator services like Uber are already managing a pool of vehicles, handling payments, cab availability, rates per kilometre at different times of the day and different traffic flows. A similar process could easily be implemented in a small town. The traffic lights and CCTV cameras could be integrated into the system. Some amount of behaviour tracking to predict busy zones, traffic jams, risky drivers, and so on is to be accepted and allowed. If only to make for comfortable navigation and painless, economical, safer transport. 
 
Indeed, the benefits could be many, even without driverless cars. There would hardly be any accidents. And if they happen, tracking systems would provide the evidence to determine the cause and who erred. Fines would be immediately deducted. Small penalties, such as withholding of parking rights, would be unerringly assigned. We would still need courts for awarding jail terms and suspension of licences for serious offences like drunken driving. But the details available to the court, the defence, and the prosecution would be flawless and of far greater forensic value. 
 
By letting artificial intelligence manage traffic in small towns to begin with, we could prepare ourselves for a future of driverless cars and fully integrated city management systems. The smart cities that the government is pushing for might be good places to begin with. Equally, traffic in ultramodern business districts like the GIFT city near Gandhinagar, where eventually thousands of businesses will set up office in high-rises, could be managed using artificial intelligence. The immense amount of data these experiments generate can be analysed for behaviour trends and extrapolated to plan for growth.
 
Reality check
People are still beginning to adjust to the idea of artificial intelligence handling important aspects of their life, so few would be willing to submit traffic management altogether to lengths of code. There are aspects of privacy too, for people still don't want their behaviour recorded, even anonymously, whatever larger benefits that may bring about.
 
(This article appears in January 15, 2019 edition)

Comments

 

Other News

Govt approves stepping up of Remdesivir Drug production

The government has reviewed the issue of availability of Remdesivir Drug and has decided to increase the production and decrease the price of the drug. The government has​ also issued a ban on its export. Remdesivir is the first drug approved by the FDA for treating the SAR

NCSC Online Grievance Management Portal for scheduled castes

Union Minister for Communication & IT and Law & Justice Ravi Shankar Prasad launched the Online Grievance Management Portal of National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC) in the presence of Minister of State for Social Justice & Empowerment Shri Rattan Lala Kata

In Maharashtra, what’s allowed, what’s not

Essential services allowed: 1) Hospitals, diagnostic centres, clinics, vaccinations, medical insurance offices, pharmacies, pharmaceutical companies, other medical and health services including supporting manufacturing and distribution units. This would also include dealers, transpo

Maharashtra goes under ‘Janata curfew’, restrictions from tonight

Striving to control the deadly second wave of Covid-19 infections, the Maharashtra government has imposed prohibition on the gathering of more than four people as well as night curfew from Wednesday till May 1. Starting 8 pm Wednesday, Section 144 of CrPC (prohibition on the gathering of mor

Govt launches e-marketplace for aqua farmers

Union Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal inaugurated e-SANTA, an electronic marketplace providing a platform to connect aqua farmers and buyers. It aims to enable the farmers to get a better price and the exporters to directly purchase quality products from the farmers

Central Mine Planning and Design Institute to use a drone for coalfield survey

Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) and Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) have granted a conditional exemption to Central Mine Planning and Design Institute (CMPDI) for surveying in coalfield areas of Coal India Ltd. The drones will be deployed for the acquisition of d

Visionary talk series with Nupur Sharma, National Spokesperson, BJP



Archives

Current Issue

Opinion

Facebook    Twitter    Google Plus    Linkedin    Subscribe Newsletter

Twitter