The road to innovation: 4 key opportunities for AI in transport

Transportation is the backbone of the UK economy – it underlies the vast, continuously moving network of goods and people essential for economic activity and a happy society. It can also bring in substantial financial benefits and access to talent and jobs, while fostering connectivity and community.

Posted on: 07/03/2024

Challenges and opportunities in transport

Despite its importance, the transport sector faces major challenges. Productivity has declined by 20% over the past five years, highlighting a need for innovation to improve efficiency and performance. The rise of artificial intelligence (AI) brings with it significant potential for the transport and logistics industry to revolutionise defunct processes, boost innovation in seemingly stagnant areas, and manoeuvre skilfully through the transition to a sustainable future. It offers the opportunity to transform of all aspects of the transport system and tackle its biggest challenges.

According to research by the PSC for Innovate UK BridgeAI, here are four ways in which transportation businesses can harness the power of AI technologies to maximise efficiency, minimise costs and improve sustainability:

  1. Improving route planning
    Understanding the travel needs of people and businesses is key for smooth transportation. Inadequate route options can prevent millions of people from accessing opportunities and services, and in logistics, the final stretch of delivery can be expensive, often making up a significant portion of total shipping costs. By implementing AI, transport providers can accurately predict demand, analyse requirements, and recommend the best routes to take. This would not only save money but also contribute to cutting carbon emissions.
  2. Predicting breakdowns
    Keeping vehicles in top condition can be expensive for fleet managers and unexpected breakdowns can cause major disruptions and costs. AI solutions that leverage precise sensor data and accurate models could predict when maintenance is needed before things go wrong, allowing operators to spot issues early, fix them before they become major problems, and keep vehicles on the road longer.
  3. Evaluating logistics
    Logistics companies face challenges in forecasting and planning for changing demands within a complex web of supply chains. AI solutions could analyse data patterns and fluctuations in demand to calculate the best way to allocate resources. This means businesses can make smart investments that match what the market needs.
  4. Simplifying paperwork
    Administrative tasks, such as paperwork and data extraction, pose significant time and cost burdens for logistics operators. AI solutions can streamline these processes by automating paperwork, eliminating human error while saving substantial time and costs.

Read the full research report here.

The potential impact of AI

Integration of AI technologies into the transport sector could have a massive impact on efficiency, productivity, and sustainability. If you’re involved in the transportation industry, now is a crucial time to explore how new technologies could help you get ahead of the curve and outpace the fast-moving AI landscape.

For those looking to develop and validate responsible, ethical and effective AI and ML solutions, this month brings many opportunities to benefit from the Innovate UK BridgeAI programme:

  • Innovate UK is offering UK businesses a share of up to £5 million to develop innovative AI solutions to boost productivity in key sectors, including transport – applications open 27th March.
  • Digital Catapult is delivering the FutureScope Acceleration Programme which is currently open to UK-based startups, scaleups and SMEs in the transport industry – applications close 13th March.
  • STFC Hartree Centre, is also hosting a Transportation Workshop on 13th March to explore the challenges of AI adoption specific to the Automotive, Aerospace, Rail and Maritime industries – get tickets here.

Find out more about how Innovate UK BridgeAI can help you to transform your business with AI here.

Author: Sara El-Hanfy, Head of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning at Innovate UK

Follow Sara on LinkedIn.

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