AI goes beyond autonomous cars when it comes to transportation

3 min read

people-3217855_1920By Nathan Sykes, Finding an Outlet

Automation, machine learning, artificial intelligence, neural networks — these are all highly transformative technologies that are making quite the impact in the modern world. Artificial intelligence and machine learning, for instance, will power the next generation of smart vehicles, allowing them to be driverless and controlled by safe, effective platforms.

Of course, you’d be forgiven for thinking that’s the only way they’re making an impact in the transportation and automotive industries. Driverless vehicles are, after all, incredibly convenient and useful. Plus, it’s difficult to imagine AI and related technologies making a difference elsewhere. How will these tools play into travel, public transportation, navigation, wayfinding and much more?

Curated travel experiences

Want to go out of town, but don’t have a specific destination in mind? Why not leave the decision up to a chatbot or AI tool? It’s likely you already use a voice assistant such as Siri or Alexa to curate and handle various tasks in your daily life. Maybe it makes sense to trust an AI to choose your next dream vacation, too!

Even if you don’t let the machine curate your trip, you have access to a vast amount of support. Through instant messaging apps like Facebook Messenger and Slack, you can get in touch with an automated bot that can answer queries, pull up flight and travel info, clock travel routes and much more. On platforms such as Priceline or Expedia, you can tap into an algorithm-based recommendation system, designed to personalize the online booking experience to your needs. Guess what powers such a system? Machine learning and big data technologies, of course.

Just as many of us rely on voice assistants in our daily lives, so we’ll eventually embrace technologies of the future when it comes to travel and booking. The famous Cosmopolitan hotel in Las Vegas, for example, unveiled a custom-made AI concierge named Rose to help improve guest services and modernize customer experiences.

Self-driving public transportation

With the emergence of self-driving and driverless vehicles comes the opportunity for automated transportation. Imagine taxis or shuttles designed to operate on a schedule, with no human driver behind the wheel.

The scenario may sound far-fetched now, but within the next few years, it will become a reality. Several countries, including China and Sweden, have rolled out self-driving shuttles, so there’s already a precedent. Various companies are also testing them here in the States, so it won’t be long until they’re available everywhere.

AI and machine learning systems will tap into a remote network, even from the moving vehicles, to coordinate and analyze a variety of performance and situational data. They’ll know what to do when encountering passersby, other vehicles and even road hazards.

Even air and rail travel may soon be automated, too. You may be surprised to hear Boeing is currently working on a pilotless passenger plane.

Service robots

AI and machine learning can also power and control modern robotics, which provides a multitude of opportunities — both for automating menial tasks and speeding up the average customer experience. It’s not a stretch to imagine bots taking the place of a concierge, doorman, baggage and claims checkers, luggage transport, bartenders and much more.

Oakland International Airport, for instance, deployed something just like this to help guests find their way around the facility. A robot named Pepper greets passengers near Terminal 2, and displays an interactive property map on a proprietary screen nearby. Travelers can talk to the robot to find out information about directions, restroom locations, points of interest and much more.

Vesper designed a robot named Gita that will automatically follow you on short jaunts. What makes it special is that you can stow various items, including luggage, leaving you hands-free. Gita also doubles as a scooter to help people travel locally much faster. It’s not too much of a stretch to envision a whole fleet of similar robots in airports to help travelers carry luggage or pass through security checkpoints.

Automation, convenience and safety are key

Whether you’re talking about modern artificial intelligence or machine learning, the goal is the same: to automate or update a process to be more efficient. In the case of driverless vehicles, the tech will even help roadways and passengers become much safer. A machine, computer, robot or application never gets exhausted, cranky or burned out. It will never take its eyes or attention away from the task at hand, either.

Vehicles aren’t the only things becoming safer thanks to the technology, and as it continues to evolve, reach will grow. Th bright — very bright — and heavily automated.

Nathan Sykes is a business and technology writer and founder of Finding an Outlet.

1 COMMENT

  1. Self-driving public transportation? Why do I feel like nobody is going to trust this? I mean, every time that a small self-driving accident happens, it gets all over the news. So, I feel like it’s still a bit too early to adopt self-driving in public transportation.

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