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Advancement of AI in collaboration with Autonomous Vehicle: Rethinking our Traditional Traffic Infrastructure

  • 1.  Advancement of AI in collaboration with Autonomous Vehicle: Rethinking our Traditional Traffic Infrastructure

    Posted 03-27-2021 11:13 AM
    Edited by Oanh Le 03-27-2021 10:27 PM

    Oanh T. Le


    Advancement of AI in collaboration with Autonomous Vehicles

    Rethinking our Traditional Traffic Infrastructure

    Hi Everyone,

    I hope life has been treating you well. We have been hard hit during the COVID crisis and it undeniably has affected our economy and infrastructure in a way that has devastated so many lives and families. But, I believe that we will make it through this.

    I don't believe in a new normal, I know a lot of people like to make slogans, but moving forward our lives probably won't be too different from our current situation. While doctors and scientists in the medical field are hard at work racing to find vaccines, we should keep it in our best interest to do the same in our field of specialty and work together to find great solutions.

    The primary question I want to share with everyone is, What is the role of Artificial Intelligence in our industry? I think this question can be asked no matter what study or focus a student or professional chooses to specialize in and it is a question that is going to be persistent as we advance through this new technology age. I think it's something that we would benefit from when defining the extent to which it may effect our industry and our lives. 

    So, what is artificial intelligence? "Artificial intelligence (AI) is [a] wide-ranging branch of computer science concerned with building smart machines capable of performing tasks that typically require human intelligence…", as stated by BUILT-IN. If King Arthur's sword, Excalibur, could only be wielded by him, the rightful heir of Britain, perhaps every specialty has its own Excalibur too. There is no doubt that this advancement is a highly dynamic and versatile development. 

    Our infrastructure has been interesting to observe. We have an overflow of issues rushing towards us and it can leave many people overwhelmed and feeling like we have to be engaged and engrossed in something other than ourselves, things like culture wars and racial supremacy. But we do live in a fairly rigid and forceful system that does not give much leeway to the ever-changing pace of our natural environment and perhaps the best way to move forward is to focus on ourselves because our country is based on what diversity and inclusion is. But we have to practice it. It is an existing foundation that has always been there since the founding of this country and even yet, a system that has already been figured out by nature that we have yet to understand and work with. Ms. Janine M. Benyus wrote, in Biomimicry,  "The more our world looks and functions like this natural world, the more likely we are to be accepted on this home that is ours, but not ours alone."

    After a team meeting last week (a few months ago) and reading about Roadbotics, I was reminded of the question that I had a few years back. What is the role of AI in our industry? This seems like a nearly impossible discussion to have, but this gives me hope with unemployment rates so high. 

    I was interested in the idea of autonomous vehicles and how it may interact with our existing traffic systems a few years ago. During the early periods of my career, I was mostly experienced in Roadway Engineering and I had also done some work in Traffic Engineering too as a Transportation Technician, although they called me an intern. I was reminded of this concept that I had after reading about Roadbotics, a company located in Pittsburgh that uses smartphones and AI to monitor and maintain infrastructure assets by collecting, storing, and analyzing road data.

    Five main items that were brought to light by our ASCE team during these brief conversations were:

    1. Tech's Role in Civil Engineering
    2. Cybersecurity
    3. Managing Challenges of Technology
    4. Realizing Concept to Deployment
    5. Legislation

    All of this is great, but I feel like we also need to be able to pace ourselves with respect to the development of technology in an attempt to bring about work life harmony, to pace ourselves as we develop and innovate in order to consistently define and narrow the employment and skill gap, so that other people can enjoy rewarding work life harmony and follow their dreams, because that is what life and our work is about, people. 

    The main questions that I want to consider discussing are:

    1. What is the potential for traffic systems to become an integrated part of vehicles when AI has a role?
    2. How do we install and program traffic signaling systems in autonomous vehicles or synchronize the systems safely and securely?
    3. How do we protect the cyber network infrastructure?
    4. Will there be a time when and where traffic lights are no longer needed and how soon would that be? 
    5. How much resources can be saved when we rethink our traffic systems, in terms of utilities, material, earthwork, etc.?
    6. How crucial will cybersecurity become in these scenarios?
    7. Considering that everyone has businesses that rely on a working cyber infrastructure, how will the role of cybersecurity evolve and how may we as civil engineers collaborate with this industry?
    8. Finally, we are hearing a lot about Big Tech companies like Facebook and Google in question today, can AI bring about fair trade? 

    I guess, I am asking these questions because I am interested in witnessing a harmonious relationship between the union of nature, technology, and people. I am looking forward to seeing what the future has in store and the fruition of fully integrated traffic systems in autonomous vehicles. I hope you will too.


    Oanh Le, EIT A.M.ASCE






  • 2.  RE: Advancement of AI in collaboration with Autonomous Vehicle: Rethinking our Traditional Traffic Infrastructure

    Posted 03-27-2021 09:49 PM

    Oanh, you may have a look at the piece, Artificial Intelligence – the Tool of No Limit on my Website. It does not address the issues of autonomous vehicles per se, but has addressed many other aspects of AI – Potentials, Threat, Ethics, Laws, and Regulations.





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    Dr. Dilip Barua, Ph.D, P.Eng, M. ASCE
    Vancouver, BC, Canada