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The Multiple Uses of AI in Today’s Transportation Industry

As the world population continues to grow, global issues are emerging in the transportation and logistics industry. Moving people, products, and goods by air, water, land, and sea has produced worldwide concerns, including an increase in travel demand, CO2 emissions, safety problems, and environmental degradation.

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To address these global transportation concerns, more companies are using artificial intelligence (AI). Artificial intelligence has proven particularly useful in solving problems in areas such as traffic management, public transportation, traffic safety and urban mobility.

RFID Provides More Real-Time Data for Cargo Shipments

AI has opened the door to more data about the entire transport process. Typically, the transportation industry moves goods shipped in the United States at a rapid rate, with millions of parcels delivered each day. As a result, it is important to understand how products move from business to customer and identify bottlenecks.

Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology uses radio waves, RFID tags and smart labels to transmit data in real time. This technology helps manufacturers pinpoint the location of cargo and understand environmental factors that can impact cargo shipments. In addition, bundling — packaging complimentary items headed for the same destination — can benefit from RFID technology as well.

Understanding major stress points in the movement of cargo can help companies to determine the fastest routes for their products and decrease congestion levels. In addition, developing more reliable routes can produce predictable travel and delivery times, an advantage for both companies and the customers they serve.

AI Is Improving Transportation Software

AI has many applications for transportation software. Some examples of AI techniques that are being used in the transportation field include:

  • Artificial Neural Networks (ANN)
  • Genetic Algorithms (GA)
  • Simulated Annealing (SA)
  • Artificial Immune System (AIS)
  • Ant Colony Optimiser (ACO)
  • Bee Colony Optimization (BCO)
  • Fuzzy Logic Model (FLM)

AI has also proven useful for ships and ports. For example, it is being used to create a network of intelligent ships and smart ports integrated into one global system, based on the collection of networks, also known as the Internet of Things and big data applications.

AI: Making Transportation Safer in the Pandemic Environment

In today’s COVID-19 pandemic environment, safety must be a priority in all modes of freight and passenger transportation. Companies have used their ingenuity and innovation to create cutting-edge technologies that have helped rail to become one of the safest modes of transportation. Specifically, AI technologies like machine vision, machine learning, neural net applications, AI-based risk analysis, and the expansion of autonomous inspection technologies are now prevalent in both passenger and freight travel.

Biometrics: Using Facial Recognition Technology for Airline Passengers

Facial recognition technology is being tested with airlines to speed up the check-in process. For example, there are new biometrics-based boarding programs that recognize passengers by facial imagery.

Airlines are piloting such programs in Boston and Los Angeles airports. Airlines have also used AI in the form of information technology and robotics to improve the travel experience for passengers, including producing contactless tickets, generating electronic travel itineraries, and using electronic payment systems via passengers’ cell phones to ease navigation through airports and to destinations.

AI Can Reduce Operational Costs and Create New Markets

The use of AI in transportation will continue to assist in lessening challenges and limitations in this field. For instance, McKinsey notes that 65% of our nation’s consumable goods are trucked to their markets.  

According to McKinsey, “With full autonomy, operating costs would decline by about 45%, saving the U.S. for-hire trucking industry between $85 billion and $125 billion.” AI also enhances warehouse operations through the use of technology such as collaborative robots, advanced sorting systems and indoor drones.

The International Finance Corporation says that “AI offers new solutions to emerging transportation challenges by making market entry easier, allowing countries to reach underserved populations, and creating market opportunities.” As AI automation proceeds, logistics costs might fall by up to 40%, according to McKinsey.

AI is fast becoming the standard in both transportation and convenience technologies. It has now become a guiding light in both our everyday personal and business lives.

Dr. Kandis Y. Boyd Wyatt, CLTD, PMP, is a professor in the School of Business and has over 25 years of experience managing projects that specialize in project management and supply chain management. A global speaker and STEM advocate, she obtained a B.S. in meteorology and an M.S. in meteorology and water resources from Iowa State University, as well as a D.P.A. in public administration from Nova Southeastern University.

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