Combining artificial intelligence with the natural phenomenon of swarm intelligence for new mobility solutions
What is “better”: Zero movement or unlimited movement with CO2 emissions?
What is “wanted”: Fast deliveries or clean air?
What is “easier”: Earning money or saving the planet?
In the last two centuries, humanity gradually changed from a non-industrial economy to the full automation of production processes and various aspects of life. Now, society needs to change from an inconsiderate to a more sustainable mode of technological and economic development. However, very often, good inventions turn into something bad when left uncontrolled. Now that we have realized the need for the next global change, we should not leap to conclusions in our search for new ways of moving things.
As many believe that robots can manage many aspects of our lives better than us, we tend to give more and more decisive power to them, especially in the field of mobility. Although artificial intelligence opens up many new possibilities, are we sure that we can already fully delegate the job of moving things to it? As said, it is probably better to avoid any extremes. The effects of new technologies should be carefully evaluated. Some of the hurdles impacting the current paths are aging infrastructure and lack of social acceptance. While mobility is currently at the forefront of integrating AI into our daily life and despite all the rhetoric about sustainability, our focus is still on individual mobility. We are not willing to change yet due to economic reasons – and Covid-19 is not helping either. Nonetheless, the need to save the planet and significantly reduce emissions remains. Therefore, we must learn how to optimize our existing resources in the most sustainable way.
The founders of Graphmasters (www.graphmasters.net) set out to create navigation apps which, while using AI, are modelled after nature, combining the best of both worlds. Since 2013, we – Graphmasters – have been busy with balancing all the aforementioned factors and improving mobility with a special mode of navigation – collaborative routing. Collaborative routing is based on the principle of swarm intelligence, a phenomenon in which groups of individuals are connected to each other by intensive communication, allowing them to make intelligent decisions through collaboration. On this basis, we have developed NUNAV, our multiple award-winning software as a service (SaaS). It has paid off for us to listen to science and at the same time learn from nature, which has been pointing the right way for thousands of years.
NUNAV impresses with its data updates at second intervals, which means that the routing takes place practically in real time. This is possible because our technology is based not on pre-planned modules, but on a cloud solution. Instead of guiding all road users going from A to B onto one and the same route, each person is given an individual slot as in air traffic. As we calculate the capacity of the road networks, our system can fully utilize the existing resources. Thus, the flows in the entire traffic system are speeded by up to 30 %, and potential traffic jams are avoided.
In the same way, our Strategy Editor enables authorities to virtually block individual corridors or optimally redirect the traffic in accordance with inner-city restrictions or travel bans. This can also be done in real time and at the push of a button, allowing for immediate reaction to any changes in the current traffic situation. This is an important factor in preventing an undesired shift of traffic to side streets, residential areas, or other traffic-reduced zones, e. g. during major events such as trade fairs, concerts, and sports events. The technology also works in a similar way for any urban utilities using fleets for their services such as street cleaning, garbage collection, etc. In fact, good management of these prosaic needs has positive effects on the quality of life for the people around, and this is what really matters.
Another important part of our daily routine is logistics, retail and parcel deliveries. With NUNAV Courier, we offer cities and municipalities a noticeable reduction in traffic flows – and, as a consequence, CO2 emissions – through intelligent organization and route optimization for these industries. With our AI-based turn-by-turn navigation services and route optimization algorithms, we optimize entire depots. While our customers make a positive contribution to climate protection, they also improve their competitiveness. In addition, with fully reliable “estimated times of arrival”, their end customers profit from an increase in service quality.
Just to illustrate the dimensions of the impact we make: Hermes, Graphmasters’ largest customer in the field of delivery services in Germany, has been using Graphmasters’ NUNAV technology for quite some time, and, since then, the company has been saving more kilometers than the distance from the earth to the moon and back – every week!
Considering the developments in mobility over the last two centuries, such savings in distance and also emissions seemed a utopia. Graphmasters made them a reality combining AI-based technology with natural phenomena. And we do not stop there: our vision is a world without traffic jams.
Juliana Obynochnaya has graduated Lomonossow Moscow State University, faculty of journalism, as well as holds an executive MBA degree in ESADE Business School. Having vast experience in both - business and state services, she has been deepening her knowledge and building career in the fields of high-tech and smart cities. Since summer 2020 she has joint Graphmasters and is responsible for urban mobility solutions.