Google AI to help improve traffic flow in Abu Dhabi

Tech company plans to collaborate with the UAE on several initiatives

Traffic on Al Saada Bridge in Abu Dhabi. Victor Besa / The National
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Google is working with Abu Dhabi's transport authority to boost the number of green lights in the emirate, using machine learning technology to reduce stop-and-go traffic and, in turn, cut down on air pollution.

The US-based tech company announced several ways it plans to collaborate with the UAE on artificial intelligence initiatives at an event hosted at the Mohammed bin Zayed University of Artificial Intelligence (MBZUAI) in Abu Dhabi on Thursday.

“We’re at an exciting inflection point” in AI development, said Karan Bhatia, global vice president for government relations and public policy at Google.

“Building this transformational technology responsibly must be a collective effort that involves researchers, social scientists, industry experts, governments and people.”

Project Green Light is a pilot programme, also under way in Hamburg, Germany, and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, to gather data on traffic patterns and build AI models that can make recommendations – for example, increasing the number of seconds of green time between certain hours.

Such modifications can help reduce congestion and greenhouse gas emissions, and also improve the flow of traffic and air quality in the city.

Along with the traffic pilot, Google plans to offer research awards to the faculty at MBZUAI to help improve Arabic representation in AI foundation models, with a focus on identifying research that has a societal impact in sustainability and climate change.

In addition to the financial support, MBZUAI faculty will be able to request in-kind support in Google cloud computing.

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“AI research and development is central to the UAE’s economic diversification, sustainable growth and global competitiveness strategy, and partnerships with key industry leaders are important for the continued application of the university’s pioneering research,” said Sultan Al Hajji, MBZUAI vice president of public affairs and alumni relations.

This week, Google will also co-host its first quarterly Al Majlis event with the UAE Ministry of State for Digital Economy, AI and Remote Working System, to discuss and advance AI principles and policies.

The event will cover the topic of responsible innovation with leaders in government, academia and businesses in tourism, media and publishing, retail and telecoms.

Future Majlis discussions will address AI's impact on sustainability, health care and the future of work.

“There is so much we can accomplish and so much we must get right – together. There's significant value in collaborative leadership in AI and we look forward to doing more with local partners in the UAE and to help advance AI research and solutions that meet the needs of the country,” Mr Bhatia said.

From left, Google executive Karan Bhatia with Sultan Al Hajji from MBZUAI and Mohamed Karmastaji from Abu Dhabi's Integrated Transport Centre. Photo: Google
Updated: May 25, 2023, 1:58 PM

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