As future mobility trends gain traction around the world, the powers to be in the mobility space from across the globe are now shifting their attention to the concept of ‘smart cities’. We’re witnessing the advent of innovation and technology that make travel as safe and easy as possible for commuters.
South Korea’s BlueSignal, a member company of the Born2Global Centre, is one such company that has been striving to bring us one step closer to making our megacities ‘smart’.
The company leverages the power of Artificial Intelligence (AI) to make intelligent traffic prediction and optimisation and has been making significant progress in this space with its three offerings: Signal Optimizer, Safe Driving Advisor and Congestion Prediction.
BlueSignal CEO, Jason (Seng Tae) Baik, spoke to Auto Futures to tell us more about the company’s endeavours to make ‘smart cities’ a reality.
“My best friend’s father suffered a heart attack but could not get to the hospital within the ‘golden time’ as he was stuck in traffic. That was the background for my start-up idea. I wondered why vehicles have to stop at red lights even when there are no other vehicles or pedestrians. I was curious about whether there could be a solution for this. And that is what motivated me to develop this technology. Solving traffic congestion and addressing traffic problems are the ultimate goals of BlueSignal,” says Baik.
“BlueSignal’s AI-based prediction engine interprets traffic-related data (sensor data, speed, level of congestion, construction, weather, parking) in a unique way to predict future traffic conditions like congestion, risks, anticipated traffic conditions, among others.
“Using AI prediction platform, we are developing applications for multiple industries. Based on predicted traffic situations that could occur on a road up to six hours in the future, BlueSignal’s solutions provide information on vehicle routes and future traffic conditions. Our platform can be used to increase the efficiency of traffic signal control or for the management of traffic-related infrastructure like warnings based on CCTV-based predictive information about traffic conditions,” he adds.
Predicting and Avoiding Congestion
I was keen on understanding the role that traffic management technologies play in building future ‘smart cities’ and how BlueSignal’s technology can help solve one of the biggest mobility challenges that most megacities in the world are faced with today – congestion.
“BlueSignal’s AI-based future traffic prediction platform is likely to be integrated with the mobility or urban infrastructure of smart cities,” explains Baik.
“That is, for vehicles and urban infrastructure like CCTV and traffic signal systems, BlueSignal’s solutions can help prevent traffic congestion and accidents by predicting future traffic conditions, such as traffic congestion or other risks. It is a core technology serving these purposes, and its merit is gradually being recognized. The technology has been applied to traffic signal systems in China and the Middle East, improving traffic flows by 5 to 13 percent.”
BlueSignal has three core solutions – Signal Optimizer, Safe Driving Advisor and Congestion Prediction. The most critical element of the three solutions of BlueSignal is future traffic prediction. The most basic factor enabling the prediction of future traffic conditions is changes in speed that can occur due to high traffic density in a certain area.
Signal Optimizer enables efficient traffic signal operation, while Safe Driving Advisor transmits warnings to pedestrians or vehicles, based on risk factors used to predict situations that could occur in the near future based on CCTV data. Congestion Prediction is a solution used for head-up displays or navigation systems installed and prebuilt in vehicles.
Self-driving vehicles need to collaborate with road infrastructure while also ensuring the safety of the vehicle.
As of now, BlueSignal primarily services other businesses and governments and a large bulk of this list comprises of foreign automakers, distributors and transportation-related government institutions. And with the outstanding work that it is doing in the area, accolades are bound to come its way.
Like in 2018, BlueSignal was selected as one of the world’s top seven companies by Infinity Lab or at International Intelligent Vehicle Expo in Beijing, where it was the first Korean company to be recognised at the time for its technology.
“The solutions of BlueSignal, particularly Safe Driving Advisor, will be used to prevent traffic accidents. Signal Optimizer reduces traffic accidents and will be used for smart city projects at home and abroad. Starting in 2021, BlueSignal’s solutions will be used in Korea for smart city projects of Daegu, Busan, and Sejong Smart City. Currently, smart city projects in Dubai and China are not actively adopting our solutions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but they are continuously making inquiries with us,” adds Baik.
Since BlueSignal is working with numerous companies and government institutions across the world, it is only obvious that it has to work with different road conditions. For instance, the roads in Riyadh are very different from those in Beijing. This got me curious as to how the company is adapting its platform to meet the needs of the different regions.
“That is a very good question. Road conditions vary from country to country, and cities in the same country have different road conditions and traffic policies. To address this diversity, BlueSignal’s AI analytics platform has a module for the automatic classification and analysis of data attributes. This helps enable the prompt learning of various traffic data and policies and optimal response to diversity in order to increase accuracy.
“Furthermore, in overseas projects, the ability of local partners to understand and respond to diversity is critical, which is why BlueSignal considers collaboration with our local partners overseas to be indispensable,” Baik notes.
With the rise of mobility trends, Baik sees efficient traffic management play an increasingly important role in increasing the safety of our roads not by itself, but rather in conjunction to other technologies. He said: “Collaboration is required. A duplex technology that ensures mutual cooperation between vehicles, infrastructure, and operating systems can serve the goals of the smart city traffic sector, which focuses on drivers’ convenience, operational efficiency, and safety.
“Going forward, operation systems for vehicles and transportation infrastructure will be integrated for the purpose of convergence and collaboration, and technology will be needed for this. For example, self-driving vehicles need to collaborate with road infrastructure while also ensuring the safety of the vehicle.”
Finally, I asked Baik about his outlook on ‘smart cities’ and how will they become mainstream. According to him, it won’t be long before we see them come to life.
He explains: “Smart cities envision an operating environment where vehicles, drivers, and infrastructure all collaborate, and this will be realised sooner than we think. Although there is no mutual protocol for collaboration, if nations or polices move promptly in this direction, related technologies will soon begin entering our daily lives as such technology is already more advanced than current polices. To achieve this, we at BlueSignal will strive to make the best use of our technology.”