Cubic Transportation Systems (CTS) and McMaster University have recently celebrated the first anniversary of the launch of the Centre of Excellence for Artificial Intelligence and Smart Mobility, making progress with their research while tackling urbanization bottlenecks and traffic data.
The centre aims to ”design the future of inclusive mobility through innovation and technology collaboration between government, academia, and the public and private sectors,” McMaster said in its announcement of the centre last year.
The program also focused on training students in STEM fields, through its research and product development with public and private mobility service providers.
“We wanted to build an innovation centre in the North American region,” said Galen Chui, senior vice president of product and engineering at CTS. “That was really for building out the pipeline for the entire transportation industry and to help us innovate in this space.”
Over the year, the centre was able address complex issues facing transportation systems through research and development.
Chui described the first year of the centre as a time to build out skill sets and understanding about what the transportation business really is, since public transportation specifically isn’t commonly studied.
“In terms of actual public transportation, that was a really cool opportunity to have some bidirectional learning between the students and us on transportation. So what does it actually mean when we think about congestion management?”
The centre was able to use artificial intelligence and machine learning to predict traffic congestion and mitigate impact, as well as identifying road usage, road user and pedestrian patterns.
Chui says the centre has also been using computer vision in several ways within the program.
“We are looking at computer vision to help address safety at the intersection. We have a camera that sits up on top at the intersection already that just counts vehicles. We can apply a different lens of machine learning and create synthesized data so that we can figure out what’s the trajectory of the vehicles – what’s the time to collision, so to speak,” Chui said. “So we can again address the city’s main concerns at the intersection: zero incidents, more safety for vulnerable road users such as cyclists and elders.”
He added that looking at idle times and reducing CO2 emissions are also part of the work being done at the centre.
The Centre of Excellence for Artificial Intelligence and Smart Mobility has also been able to open doors and provide opportunities for McMaster students. He added that the centre offers internships for students at the school.
“The benefit is bidirectional. The students don’t have any blinders whatsoever. So everything is possible and the way that they tackle problems I think is extremely unique and exhilarating. And that’s what we kind of do at the internship programs,” Chui said.
He noted that the students are trained, mentored and assigned in the same way as full time employees, providing the most authentic and realistic experience.
Chui says he hopes working with students in these internships allows for talent growth in the transportation industry.
Lastly, this year, the centre is focusing on actually productizing all of the research it has been working on.
“This year is all about productizing. We’re taking three or four really great ideas and hardening them within our business so that we can actually start to get it out into the real world, and then have people start to enjoy some of the cool technology that has been developed between McMaster and Cubic,” Chui said.