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

How much time do you spend talking on phone?

How much time do Indians spend talking on phone? It is on average 761 minutes per month, according to a new report from the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI). The telecom regulator released its report, titled ‘The Indian Telecom Services Performance Indicators: July-Septemb

“Developing public health infrastructure key to sustainable healthcare for all”

Renowned cardiologist Dr Ramakanta Panda has said that the pandemic has exposed the inadequacy of existing healthcare systems and it is wrong to draw comparisons with Korea, a country with the population equal to that of a single Indian state. While speaking to Kailashnath Adhikari, MD, Gove

SC-appointed panel on farm laws holds first meet

The committee of experts appointed by the supreme court to deliberate with the stakeholders on the new farm laws held its first meeting here Tuesday, with one of its members saying that all stakeholders, including individual farmers, will be heard. Hearing a petition on the farm laws enacted

India’s glitch-free vaccination gathers pace

The nationwide vaccination campaign launched Saturday, the largest such exercise in the world, has started setting new benchmarks, with vaccines administered to 2,24,301 beneficiaries in the first two days. “India has vaccinated the highest number of persons on Day1 under its COVID19 v

Maharashtra to spend Rs 2,500 crore to augment, develop power infrastructure

The Maharashtra government has announced a spending of Rs 2,500 crore annually to develop infrastructure of state-owned distribution company Mahavitaran (MSEDCL).   Out of the total amount, Rs 1,500 crore will be spent on energisation of conventional agriculture pumps and Rs 1,000 crore

Launched: Largest vaccination drive in history

India on Saturday began the massive vaccination drive against Covid-19, as prime minister Narendra Modi paid tributes the ‘corona warriors’. “Such a vaccination drive at such a massive scale was never conducted in history. There are over 100 countries having less than 3 cro

Visionary Talk with Shehzad Poonawalla On the State of Current Affairs





Archives

Current Issue

Opinion

Facebook    Twitter    Google Plus    Linkedin    Subscribe Newsletter

Twitter