Huddersfield now the epicentre of artificial intelligence research in the UK

A cutting-edge transport research centre with a focus on artificial intelligence has been officially opened in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire.

The AI Transport Research Centre, based at the 3M Buckley Innovation Centre, is the result of a collaboration between Simplifai Systems, University of Huddersfield and Kirklees Council.

The collaboration between Simplifai, the University and the Council started in the summer of 2019 when the parties worked together on an Innovate UK Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI) project funded by Highways England (now National Highways) on the use of innovative traffic control methods to address air quality issues. Since 2019 the parties have been collaborating on the virtual research centre that was opened last week.

In 2020 the collaboration between the parties was used to support the University of Huddersfield’s successful bid for £1.4m of funding for the Dr Mauro Vallati’s UKRI Future Leaders Fellowship into the use of Artificial Intelligence in Transport Systems. The Fellowship started in February 2021 and runs initially for 4 years and could be extended for a further 3 years.

In 2021 the work of the virtual research centre was used to support Kirklees Council’s successful £250,000 bid for the Department of Transport’s Maintenance Fund Competition.

To date the collaborative work has resulted in the invention of a new form of traffic control using artificial intelligence, patents being filed in UK, US and China and over £3m of projects and investment for the Kirklees based organisations involved in the collaborations.

The main goals of the AI Transport Research Centre are to provide AI-based solutions for Autonomic Urban Traffic Control and to:

• Develop AI solutions with an holistic view of a controlled region;
• Monitor and understand traffic conditions;
• Early identify issues;
• Proactively mitigate via appropriate automatically generated strategies; and • Explain generated strategies and their impact on the region.

Autonomic computing is a computer’s ability to manage itself through adaptive technologies that increase computing capabilities and reduce the time required to resolve system difficulties and other maintenance issues such as software updates.

Simplifai Systems’ CEO Keith McCabe said: “This collaboration brings together the traffic domain expertise with the planning and scheduling expertise to invent solutions to transport issues in the middle part of the 21st Century. This is not something that happens overnight and requires long-term collaboration to identify sources of funding and long-term collaboration partners.

(Picture – Attendees of opening from Simplifai Systems, Kirklees Council, University of Huddersfield and West Yorkshire combined Authority, courtesy Simplifai Systems)

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