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Artificial intelligence will save your morning commute

Finally, a solution for our increasingly congested roads is on the horizon.

In last week’s Huawei Connect conference, Shenzhen’s Traffic Police Technology Chief Li Quiang announced the launch of their Traffic Brain system.

Using an AI-enhanced city-wide video network, the Traffic Brain system can analyse the flow of traffic on the city’s busiest roads, adjusting traffic lights, helping civil planners or alerting police where appropriate.

Shenzhen is basically like the “Silicon Valley of Hardware”, with some of the world’s largest hardware manufacturers and tech companies setting up shop there. So it’s no surprise that one of the most advanced traffic management systems in the world is being rolled out there first.

This traffic management system represents some seriously advanced tech. Systems like these can track individual vehicles as they come and go through the city. With the magic of predictive analysis and machine learning, this system can see where vehicles are coming from and take a guess at where they’ll be going.

In theory, that should mean you’ll spend less time waiting at empty intersections or stuck in traffic.

City managers and engineers can also use this system to figure out the exact spot where traffic starts to bank up or slow down – letting them make more informed decisions when planning new roads and highways.

Traffic management systems like this might also spell the end of our cheeky adventures in the bus lane or carpooling lane. The system’s AI will be able to automatically categorise any vehicle it sees, as well as the occupants within it (assuming it can see into the windows). If someone is cheating the system by using the wrong lane or driving an oversized vehicle where they shouldn’t, it’ll know.

As you’d expect, this clever little system can automatically track and report stolen or unregistered vehicles. But the real magic lies in the AI’s ability to detect unsafe behaviour; the AI can detect if you’re driving erratically, not wearing a seatbelt or using your mobile phone. Where necessary, it can then alert the cops.

The Traffic Brain and its successors have the potential to significantly improve our commutes and make everyday driving a hell of a lot safer. How the implementation of this tech will play out remains to be seen, but it’s a phenomenal step in the right direction.

The system consumes nearly 1 Petabyte of data per second and requires significant investment in network infrastructure. Unfortunately, it’ll probably be some time before we see systems like this getting set up in Australian cities, especially outside of Melbourne and Sydney. But if the Shenzhen Traffic Brain system is proven to work, you can expect to see cities around the world rolling out their own versions over the coming decade.

Disclaimer: The author of this post was sent to Shanghai to cover the Huawei Connect conference courtesy of Huawei.

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