AI striving to unlock growth and investment

Digital Catapult has announced that companies across the country are to benefit from new artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies, with this supporting the drive for economic growth and investment.

Through the High Growth AI Accelerator for transport, seven ‘cutting-edge’ companies will develop solutions alongside transport leaders to solve operational challenges, including the improvement of efficiency. This comes as the market for AI within the transport industry is expected to soar to £5 billion by 2027.

One transport partner that will benefit from this work is Transport for London, which will work with OpenCapacity and PodTech to improve productivity and efficiency across its bus network. With a bus fleet covering approximately 9,300 vehicles, new solutions on how the experience of service users – especially those who travel across London by bus and those who use wheelchairs – can be improved.

“The Bridge AI transport accelerator holds the potential to address critical challenges within the sector and open up several new avenues for economic growth and investment.”

This will come in the form of an AI-powered solution to detect and communicate the real-time status of wheelchair spaces on buses as it uses smartphone technology and integration with the journey planning app, and is expected to improve journey planning for users, as well as supporting the operator to ensure operational efficiency during busy periods.

Chief Strategy and Policy Officer at Digital Catapult, Jessica Rushworth, said:

“The Bridge AI transport accelerator holds the potential to address critical challenges within the sector and open up several new avenues for economic growth and investment. Achieving efficiency, productivity and sustainability gains in the transport industry will be a key determinant to fostering sustainable sectoral growth.”

Transport and infrastructure organisations are also to develop new solutions through AI and machine learning, with one such company being the Port of Tyne. Working alongside Bahut Limited and Hackney AI Ltd, the challenge of shipping container placement will be solved by working out how to place them in such a way that minimises the number of times that they need to be moved. According to Digital Catapult, 35% of all container movements within the terminal can be attributed reorganisation, and an AI solution to this could reduce fuel consumption and carbon emissions.

In rail, RailX will collaborate with Atera Analytics Ltd, Singular Intelligence Limited, and iPurvey automate and optimise road freight bookings through the online platform. By reducing the carbon emissions involved in the booking process, whilst maintaining efficiency and driving productivity, RailX is contributing to its long-term commercial success and will demonstrate the value of AI and machine learning in making sustainability gains across the transport sector.

Sara El-Hanfy, Innovate UK’s Head of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, added:

“It’s inspiring to see the projects moving forward as part of the High Growth Accelerator. As part of the Innovate UK BridgeAI programme, this initiative shows how the cohort of companies joining could influence and accelerate the adoption of AI. There is huge potential for AI to have a transformative effect on both efficiency and productivity for these projects spanning from London to north-east England and across different transport modes, promising wide-reaching benefits for the sector.”

With the announcement of this collaboration, a 14-week programme will begin, as each startup company will be given a range of resources by Digital Catapult, with these including:

  • Computational power
  • Strategic guidance
  • Holistic diagnosis
  • Tailored support
  • A showcase platform

Alongside the above support, participants will be able to access a ‘dynamic ecosystem' of developers and adopters of AI, as well as workshop opportunities and peer-to-peer learning to ensure that they can improve their expertise and capabilities.


Image credit: Digital Catapult


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