NUS, Grab invest S$6m in AI lab for solving urban issues like traffic congestion

NUS, Grab invest S$6m in AI lab for solving urban issues like traffic congestion

SINGAPORE: The National University of Singapore (NUS) and technology company Grab are partnering to launch an artificial intelligence (AI) laboratory here aimed at finding ways to alleviate traffic congestion and other urban transportation issues.

In a press release on Wednesday (Jul 18), both parties said the Grab-NUS AI Lab was set up with a joint initial investment of S$6 million. It represents the varsity's first AI laboratory with a commercial partner, and the ride-hailing company’s first major AI laboratory, it added.

Minister for Education Ong Ye Kung on Wednesday also witnessed the signing of the research collaboration agreement between NUS president Tan Eng Chye and Grab CEO Anthony Tan.

Located at the Innovation 4.0 building in NUS, the lab will use data from Grab’s platform – said to have facilitated more than two billion rides – to solve “complex, real-world challenges in Southeast Asia” such as mapping out traffic patterns and identifying ways to impact mobility and liveability in this region, they said.

The lab, which will be home to 28 researchers working on various AI projects, will focus on improving the efficiency and reliability of transportation on the Grab platform in Southeast Asia’s cities first, before expanding to research larger challenges such as congestion and liveability.

The research includes developing algorithms to “match drivers to the jobs they prefer and improve driving safety through better understanding of driver behaviour”. Researchers will also work on improving "precision and accuracy in mapping pick-up points and localising moving vehicles to help passengers and drivers get from point to point with greater ease and efficiency", the press release stated.

Grab's Mr Tan shared that its data, for example, shows that travel time from Newton to Tanjong Pagar can be “drastically improved”.

Screengrab of Grab video showing traffic pattern from Newton to Tanjong Pagar
(Image: Grab)

“If this route would be better served by more shared transport solutions such as buses, trains, GrabShuttle, GrabShare or GrabHitch, we could bring travel time during peak hour down by one-third or from 40 minutes to 28 minutes,” the CEO said.

The lab will also contribute to the development of AI talent through the training of PhD students who will be enrolled at the university, they added.

Source: CNA/kk(hm)