Train With A Brain: Artificial Intelligence in Mobility

A domain that will not be dominated by Artificial Intelligence (AI) virtually does not exist. More recently the automobile industry and mobility solutions have decided to invest big in AI. The biggest international collaboration in the mobility domain is Germany-Israel. BMW, General Motors, Honda, Mercedes Benz, Renault, Volkswagen and Volvo have opened R&D centers in Israel and/or have invested in Israeli technology since 2016. This year German luxury sports car manufacturer Porsche announced that it has invested in Israel and has plans for an innovation office in Tel Aviv. Audi, Honda and quite a few other big names are now looking for a close collaboration with Israel.

The Mercedes-Benz F 015 Luxury in Motion research car and its immersive user experience is an innovative perspective into the future of mobility.
The Mercedes-Benz F 015 Luxury in Motion research car and its immersive user experience is an innovative perspective into the future of mobility.

This world will soon witness autonomous cars, trucks, trains, ships and aircrafts apart from space-cabs and drones. This might take a decade or more depending on how fast these rollouts happens and how do we define liability, phase-out old means of transportation and create a new Infrastructure that this technology demands. The road to AI in mobility seems to be a long one. There’s a lot to be done and we have hardly begun.

Some of the areas which we humans are working on in Mobility at the moment are predictive or pro-active maintenance, machine learning (ML), roadways analytics, computer vision, inter-connectivity through Internet of Things (IOT), in-vehicle dynamics and design, smart solutions based on Deep Learning (DL) and Situational Intelligence (SI).

Siemens which manufactures the InterCity (ICx) series of High Speed Trains plans to release their latest offering the ICE4 with full service expected from December 2017.
Siemens manufactures the Inter-City (ICx) series of High Speed Trains that run across Europe. Siemens now plans to release their latest offering the ICE4 with full service expected from December 2017.

Germany’s mobility giant Siemens is driving digital transformation with $10 billion investment in U.S. software companies since 2007. Siemens AG Chief Technology Officer and Member of the Managing Board Roland Busch announced early this year that Siemens is exploring use of AI in Rail Technology. Now this would play a big role not just in the European Continent but Worldwide. Just a few weeks ago Siemens and the French Multinational Alstom, signed Memorandum of Understanding grants exclusivity to combine mobility businesses in a merger of equals. Latest trains manufactured by Siemens and Alstom such as the ICE4 and TGV respectively which are some of the finest trains available today have much scope for further development and integration of AI and IOT. These two giants now have the baton in their hands and thus can define modern day railways. Siemens Viaggio Light is already in use in Israel. Siemens Velaro is a common sight in China, Russia, Turkey and Spain. Siemens ACS-64, or Amtrak Cities Sprinter is very popular in the United States. Alstom too is a common sight in the US Amtrak fleet of trains. Countries like Brazil, Canada, India, Turkey and China could prove to be the biggest customers for Siemens and Alstom, especially considering the future plans of these countries to modernize their railways.

AI will make railways more secure, reliable and add a lot of high-level user experience. All trains are expected to soon become autonomous and host countless features supported by AI and IOT for an optimal user experience such as personalization of services, augmented reality for optimum usage of in-the-train facilities, user behavior analytics for continuous improvement and real-time data analytics to provide quick updates. What mobility also needs to explore is SI, a subset of AI that will have complete knowledge of the operations and greater control over bringing things into order, if required. SI demands further expertise in big-data analytics and quick responses to manage real-time situations. Going forward, SI will also track the performance of the trains at certain specifics through geospatial orientation. Things don’t end there; DL will enable faster travel and more efficient power consumption modules.

The very introduction of autonomous vehicles across the globe is imminent. We can achieve a sharp reduction in accidents (almost 98 percent), these mobility carriers will become accessible to the disabled, elderly, and young passengers and above all AI and IOT in autonomous vehicles will enhance the user-experience like never before.

We are yet to answer a lot of ethical issues such as moral, financial, and criminal responsibility for accidents, eventual bad user experiences and privacy issues that might catch our attention. AI and IOT also demand strong global governance and a rigid framework for its full-fledged implementation. We are yet to see any progress on these lines. Let us hope that this does not lead us to a day of reckoning.

Free images courtesy Pixabay

About the Author
Vinay Lohar is an ISMS, IT & Management expert, Adventurer, Photographer and Food Connoisseur He received his Masters of Business Administration from Jodhpur National University. He was an international Information Security and Data Privacy Consultant at Bosch GmbH, Stuttgart, Germany for 3 years. He also worked as a Risk Manager for and managed an internal business team for the EU region for Transaction Risk Management. Vinay currently works as a Manager for Information Security and Cyber Security with Siemens, a German conglomerate company headquartered in Berlin and Munich and the largest industrial manufacturing company in Europe.
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