Artificial intelligence for the social good

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Mobile transportation platform provider, Didi Chuxing (DiDi), has launched an initiative to fully understand the social impact on communities of artificial intelligence (AI).

The company, which offers a range of app-based transportation options for 550 million users including taxi, carpooling and bike-share, made the announcement at its Tech Day in Beijing, where it also unveiled its latest developments in AI with industry partners, academia, students and engineers.

At the event, DiDi’s tech executives, led by Bob Zhang Bo, chief technology officer, shared details of breakthroughs in the company’s popular Express Pool service, which aims to improve the user experience by using machine learning algorithms. Operating across more 100 cities in China, Express Pool now accounts for over 20 per cent of all trips in many core markets.

Machine learning for better mobility

It said the algorithms can help carpooling become the most effective mobility option for drivers to increase their income, for passengers to reduce costs, and for cities to enjoy a high level of efficiency in the transportation system.

DiDi also debuted two pilot projects slated for street testing: its indoor augmented reality (AR) navigation and a driver voice assistant. The interactive, app-based AR navigation service, which is built on computer vision positioning and 3D scene reconstruction technology, can help passengers seamlessly navigate through large buildings, such as airports, train stations and malls, to reach a vehicle pick-up location.

The driver voice assistant, which is voice-activated via an in-vehicle smart device, is designed to provide a full spectrum of services ranging from audio and video content search, information inquiry and temperature adjustment, to passenger communications, customer service, and even refuel, recharging or repair services.

Understanding AI’s social impact

Its AI for Social Good project has been launched in conjunction with more than 10 founding partners, which include the China Cultural Information Service Centre for the Visually Impaired, China Research Centre of Information and Accessibility for Disability, National Engineering Laboratory for Big Data Analysis and Technique, School of Environment of Tsinghua University and the Special Education College of Beijing Union University.

DiDi believes that as we develop more powerful AI capabilities, tech companies need to work more closely with communities to fully understand AI’s social impacts and to reinforce its social commitments. The initiative will seek joint technological and social solutions to environmental, safety, health and accessibility challenges.
The company is committed to collaborating with cities, the taxi industry and communities to solve the world’s transportation, environmental, and employment challenges with smart transportation innovations. It is working with a growing alliance of car industry players to build out an auto-solution and operation platform.

Globally, it is also in a partnership network with Grab, Lyft, Ola, Uber, 99, Taxify, and Careem, reaching over 80 per cent of the world’s population and covering more than 1,000 cities.

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