A world-first project using artificial intelligence to help ease traffic congestion and reduce commute times in major cities could be available soon.
The University of Melbourne’s Australian Integrated Multimodal EcoSystem (AIMES) – a collaboration between PeakHour Urban Technologies, the Department of Transport in Victoria and Telstra – has developed a large-scale AI application hosted on Amazon Web Services (AWS) to predict traffic conditions up to three hours ahead.
AIMES researchers believe the use of AI in traffic management will cut commutes by 20 per cent. “The application observes the nature of traffic and figures out complex traffic patterns across the network through machine learning built into the technology,” says AIMES Director Professor Majid Sarvi.
“If we can upscale the application to provide more accurate prediction with machine learning and real-time data, it will soon be possible to substantially reduce delays in hotspots across Melbourne and many locations across the globe.”
Safer and cleaner urban transport
Established in 2016, AIMES is a pioneering ‘living laboratory’ that aims to test highly integrated transport technology to deliver safer, cleaner and more sustainable urban transport in Melbourne. A network of smart sensors connects the transport environment within a six square kilometre area in Carlton on the edge of Melbourne’s CBD. The sensors monitor the flow of vehicles, cyclists, pedestrians and public transport through the grid, providing a platform for real-time testing of connected transport technology.
In 2016, traffic congestion cost the Australian economy $19 billion – a figure Infrastructure Australia warns will rise to $40 billion by 2031 without continued infrastructure investment. The annual economic cost of road accidents in Australia is an additional $27 billion.
At peak hour in Melbourne, the busiest and most congested route is the Tullamarine Freeway between Melbourne Airport and the city. By 2031, when the city’s traffic congestion price tag is expected to rise to $10.4 billion, the corridors serving growth areas in the outer northern suburbs will become the most congested due to population growth.
Busy roads and crowded public transport currently contribute to long commutes for workers who live in capital cities. In 2017, city dwellers spent 66 minutes travelling to and from work each day, a 20 per cent rise from the average of 55 minutes in 2002. Sydney had the longest daily commute of 71 minutes.
According to AIMES, connected transport can reduce the economic cost of road crashes by more than 90 per cent and help reduce the cost of congestion.