In Israel, artificial intelligence to end traffic jams

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Tel Aviv (AFP) – Monstrous traffic jams are daily life for Israelis, whose country is touted as one of the worst in this area, but artificial intelligence and its algorithms can help combat the phenomenon, according to an Israeli high-tech company.

This sector is increasingly interested in the automotive industry and a fair on smart mobility called “EcoMotion”, which promotes more efficient and greener transport, was recently held in Tel Aviv.

Among the companies present was ITC (Intelligent traffic control), which develops software capable of collecting real-time data from surveillance cameras along the roads and manipulating traffic lights according to traffic flows.

“ITC has been able to mathematically prove that many traffic jams can be avoided if we intervene early enough,” explains Dvir Kenig, who is responsible for technologies at this company, citing a 30% drop in congestion at two intersections where the system was installed above.

The company says it wants to respond to a scourge that affects the entire world, estimating that the average driver is stuck three days a year in traffic jams, a major source of greenhouse gas emissions.

Traffic control is a particularly important issue in Israel, where “transport infrastructure is seriously lacking compared to most other” developed countries, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) indicated in a report published in 2021.

“Road congestion (in Israel) is one of the worst” in OECD countries, according to this report.

Evolution

According to Meir Arnon, founder of the ‘EcoMotion’ fair, the growing global interest in smart mobility has allowed Israel – which calls itself a ‘start-up nation’ due to its bubbling high-tech sector – to become a player in the automotive sector, while the country does not manufacture any.

Overview of the smart mobility fair “EcoMotion” in Tel Aviv, May 11, 2022 JACK GUEZ AFP

“Cars have changed,” he told AFP. “It used to be made of metal, wheels and radio, but today those things don’t matter anymore.”

“What sets car manufacturers apart today is the driving experience (…), the vehicle’s ability to adapt to the driver,” he continues.

According to him, the technological systems developed by the army and the private defense sector in Israel, especially in the areas of surveillance, communications and sensors, have become essential for automakers.

With more than 600 tech start-ups – ‘second only to Silicon Valley’ – Israel has become a ‘hub’ for smart mobility, says Arnon, noting that 35 international car companies have a presence in Israel, including US giant General Engines (GM).

“The future of vehicles is outside of vehicles: in the cloud, on our phones,” says Gil Golan, head of GM’s technical center in Israel, which he describes as fertile ground for “innovation.”

– Investments –

Rider Dome, another company at the EcoMotion fair in Tel Aviv, specializes in road safety: its cameras installed on the front and rear of motorcycles use artificial intelligence to alert drivers to hazards around them.

Yoav Elgrichi, CEO of Rider Dome company specializing in motorcycle road safety, May 11, 2022
Yoav Elgrichi, CEO of Rider Dome company specializing in motorcycle road safety, May 11, 2022 JACK GUEZ AFP

“Driving assistance has become standard on almost all cars, but it doesn’t exist for motorcycles,” explains its director, Yoav Elgrichi.

But if Israel really wants to excel in automotive technology and maintain it, it will have to invest in engineering, according to Lisya Bahar Manoah of Catalyst Investments.

For her, it is necessary “as in Europe and particularly in Germany and Austria, to create vocational schools” specialized in the mobility sector.

“Israel needs to think now about how to get more engineers to support the initial environment. We need to adjust our school system accordingly,” she said.

According to the latest annual report by the Israel Innovation Authority, the high-tech sector, which employs 10% of the national workforce and accounts for nearly half of the country’s exports, is in decline, claiming that the Jewish state has registered a continued decline in start-up creation for two years.

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