Artificial intelligence

Alibaba Cloud to use artificial intelligence to smooth Hangzhou traffic flow

The subsidiary of Alibaba Group will use a smart traffic management system in cooperation with city authorities to help re-route traffic around congested zones

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 13 October, 2016, 9:53pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 22 November, 2017, 3:23pm

Alibaba Cloud (AliCloud), a subsidiary of e-commerce giant Alibaba Group, is extending application of its artificial intelligence technology into real-time traffic prediction in a collaboration with the Hangzhou government to alleviate road congestion.

AliCloud is supporting the government’s “Hangzhou City Brain” plan with its AI and big data analytics capabilities which can carry out real-time traffic forecast, the company announced at a cloud computing conference in Hangzhou on Thursday.

Under a smart traffic management system, AliCloud is able to provide real-time traffic recommendations and travel routes based on its video and image recognition technologies making use of big data.

A pilot programme started in Hangzhou’s Xiaoshan district in September after the group of 20 summit when strict traffic controls were in place.

Wang Jian, chairman of Alibaba’s technology steering committee, said the traffic speed has seen a 11 per cent increase in roads that AliCloud can collect sufficient data. The traffic speed has improved by 2 to 3 per cent in areas with less data, he added.

Traffic light adjustment is one of the features of the smart traffic management system. For instance, a green light will automatically be extended when the system detects a vehicle, helping to shorten the waiting time.

“The AI technology is able to create more value from big data which is available in many other cities,” Wang said. “However, it’s still too early to say whether the smart traffic system can be applied nationwide.”

“By establishing the Hangzhou City Brain, the city is taking the lead in harnessing AI and deep learning technologies,” Wang said.

The Hangzhou government is in coordination with 13 companies, including AliCloud, under its city brain plan to improve traffic and other aspects of urban living.

In addition, AliCloud also announced at the conference a collaboration with the National Astronomical Observatory of China to set up a data and research centre for astronomy. AliCloud will also support a virtual solar observatory with its cloud computing system Apsara which is able to process astronomical data.

Alibaba is the owner of South China Morning Post.