Artificial Intelligence: Optibus Optimizes Transit Planning Using AI

July 20, 2021 | Artificial Intelligence, News

It’s difficult to plan city transit systems manually or using Excel.

Optibus co-founder and CEO Amos Haggiag and CTO Eitan Yanovsky founded the Tel Aviv-based company in 2014 to address the challenges that transit and bus route planners face the world over – how to juggle the vast matrix of vehicles, drivers, routes, schedules, and traffic patterns. The task was becoming too complex for manual or Excel solutions, and the Optibus founders decided to deploy the cloud and AI to make it manageable. (Israel21c)

Haggiag credits his father, who is a CFO at one of the largest public transport companies in Israel, for the inspiration. “You’re studying math and computer science, maybe you can solve the problem,” said Senior.

Transport companies in Israel were only too happy to share their data with the Optibus founder-duo. The problem soon outgrew a mathematical approach, and they decided to develop a product based on an AI algorithm.

After raising $160 million, Optibus is used by transit systems in about 500 cities across the world.

How Optibus does it

Initially, the system is fed the data on the number of routes, their direction, the timetables, and the frequencies based on ridership.

Then comes the allocation of the resources – vehicles and drivers.

Once the initial planning work is complete the system is fine-tuned to handle exigencies such as traffic dislocations, sick drivers, and others.

The system uses advanced AI and network technology to assimilate all the above parameters and generate the optimized routes, manning schedules, and make adjustments on the fly.

“This really replaced very manual decisions that are not based on data,” says Haggiag. “It’s very hard for a human being to make decisions on a city-wide scale. It’s really hard to do it without something automatic. That’s the main innovation that we’re bringing to the field.”

Optibus is already prepared for the shift to electric mobility. Their systems are configured to handle the electric charging of buses, the time taken for the charge, and related decision-making.

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