Kirkland-based Inrix has released new artificial intelligence technology, INRIX AI Traffic, which the company says can provide hyper-accurate, live traffic data to a variety of sources, including the company app and cars’ navigation systems.
Inrix views the move as a large step forward in using traffic data to improve transportation systems, whether it’s commuters looking to obtain better travel time estimates or public sector agencies trying to better manage congestion.
Inrix Director of Product Marketing Mark Braibanti describes it as “the next evolution of traffic intelligence. We’re leveraging artificial intelligence technology and the cloud (technology) to provide the most precise and accurate information to date.”
Although many apps such as Google maps offer estimated time of arrivals (ETAs), traffic conditions can change en route due to accidents or construction work. However, by the time the updated data is obtained and drivers are notified, it is usually too late to change course, Braibanti said.
“Older solutions weren’t able to process this data (as) fast and accurately,” he said. “Navigation technology is great; it gets people from point A to point B. But it really falls short if it doesn’t have precise and timely traffic information.”
To create AI Traffic, Inrix rebuilt its traffic processing engine so it could handle 14 years and trillions worth of data points used to “identify patterns and produce the most accurate information,” he added. Its “deep learning” allows it to learn more about road conditions and “in real time sort through massive amounts of data to produce the best ETA.”
“There’s more data now than there’s ever been,” he said. “Other solutions weren’t built to handle all that data. If we (AI Traffic) say you’re getting there in 20 minutes, you’re getting there in 20 minutes.”
Further, the technology will continue to improve as it processes new data. In a statement, Chief Technology Officer Mark Daymond said that “AI seems like an intangible technology. By radically enhancing precision, timeliness, detail and coverage, INRIX AI Traffic is an evolution in traffic intelligence for connected cars and smart cities.”
The result is that drivers will receive road condition updates instantly, whether it’s from the vehicle navigation systems or local or state departments of transportation (DOT) that utilize the technology. This can prevent bottlenecks or chokepoints created by collisions or construction delays from becoming larger by diverting incoming traffic to other arterials or highways.
Director of Global Communications Mark Burfiend says this can be invaluable for situations such as when traffic in downtown Seattle was diverted while the Alaskan Viaduct was dismantled. With infrastructure temporarily reduced, accidents can bring transportation to a halt, he said. “That was the biggest thing they were worried about.”
Another new feature of AI Traffic is its data precision that breaks down the traffic flow of each lane on a road, which Braibanti argues can give transportation agencies a better understanding of poor traffic conditions on a specific corridor, or vice versa. For highways with dynamic tolling systems such as Interstate 405 and State Route 167, the technology offers more accurate data on the throughput in the high occupancy lanes (HOV), which determines toll rates.
“I think it’s going to have the biggest impact for the public sector,” Braibanti said. “Right now you have access to traffic information but what good is it if it’s not timely and accurate?”