Dubai turns to AI to improve public transport and cut emissions

Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority is now using artificial intelligence and machine learning to plan bus routes based on actual usage.

Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) announced that it has started experimenting with the artificial intelligence technologies such as machine learning algorithms to plan bus routes based on how they are actually used by riders throughout the day. Its aim is to improve 150 routes used by 2,158 buses across Dubai.

RTA tested the technology on 10 bus routes using data from the Nol Card (Dubai’s public transport smart card) to determine which bus stops were busy throughout the entire day, which were used during peak hours only and which were barely used at all.

“By using machine learning algorithms in analyzing the captured data, the concerned departments can build up systems and take decisions with reference to abolishing certain stops, or proposing an express service that skips those stops, while ensuring customer needs are always addressed. Such a process will contribute to improving this vital service,” said Ahmed Mahboub, Executive Director of Smart Services, Corporate Technology Support Services Sector at RTA.

According to Mahboub, the time wasted on bus routes was cut by 13.3 percent during the month-long pilot project. As buses cover some 153 million kilometers per year in Dubai, machine learning algorithms have the potential to bring about considerable savings in fuel consumption and a corresponding reduction in carbon emissions.

The project is in line with the UAE’s Artificial Intelligence Strategy, which advocates the use of technology to serve the community.

Image credit: David Rodrigo via Unsplash

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