Business & Economy
On the road to cleaner, greener, and faster driving
Researchers use artificial intelligence to help autonomous vehicles avoid idling at red lights
Written by Adam Zewe, MIT News Office
No one likes sitting at a red light. But signalized intersections aren’t just a minor nuisance for drivers; vehicles consume fuel and emit greenhouse gases while waiting for the light to change.
What if motorists could time their trips so they arrive at the intersection when the light is green? While that might be just a lucky break for a human driver, it could be achieved more consistently by an autonomous vehicle that uses artificial intelligence to control its speed.
In a new study, MIT researchers demonstrate a machine-learning approach that can learn to control a fleet of autonomous vehicles as they approach and travel through a signalized intersection in a way that keeps traffic flowing smoothly.
Using simulations, they found that their approach reduces fuel consumption and emissions while improving average vehicle speed. The technique gets the best results if all cars on the road are autonomous, but even if only 25 percent use their control algorithm, it still leads to substantial fuel and emissions benefits.
“This is a really interesting place to intervene. No one’s life is better because they were stuck at an intersection. With a lot of other climate change interventions, there is a quality-of-life difference that is expected, so there is a barrier to entry there. Here, the barrier is much lower,” says senior author Cathy Wu, the Gilbert W. Winslow Career Development Assistant Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and a member of the Institute for Data, Systems, and Society (IDSS) and the Laboratory for Information and Decision Systems (LIDS).
The lead author of the study is Vindula Jayawardana, a graduate student in LIDS and the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. The research will be presented at the European Control Conference.
While humans may drive past a green light without giving it much thought, intersections can present billions of different scenarios depending on the number of lanes, how the signals operate, the number of vehicles and their speeds, the presence of pedestrians and cyclists, etc.
Typical approaches for tackling intersection control problems use mathematical models to solve one simple, ideal intersection. That looks good on paper, but likely won’t hold up in the real world, where traffic patterns are often about as messy as they come.
Wu and Jayawardana shifted gears and approached the problem using a model-free technique known as deep reinforcement learning. Reinforcement learning is a trial-and-error method where the control algorithm learns to make a sequence of decisions. It is rewarded when it finds a good sequence. With deep reinforcement learning, the algorithm leverages assumptions learned by a neural network to find shortcuts to good sequences, even if there are billions of possibilities.
This is useful for solving a long-horizon problem like this; the control algorithm must issue upwards of 500 acceleration instructions to a vehicle over an extended time period, Wu explains.
“And we have to get the sequence right before we know that we have done a good job of mitigating emissions and getting to the intersection at a good speed,” she adds.
But there’s an additional wrinkle. The researchers want the system to learn a strategy that reduces fuel consumption and limits the impact on travel time. These goals can be conflicting.
“To reduce travel time, we want the car to go fast, but to reduce emissions, we want the car to slow down or not move at all. Those competing rewards can be very confusing to the learning agent,” Wu says.
While it is challenging to solve this problem in its full generality, the researchers employed a workaround using a technique known as reward shaping. With reward shaping, they give the system some domain knowledge it is unable to learn on its own. In this case, they penalized the system whenever the vehicle came to a complete stop, so it would learn to avoid that action.
Once they developed an effective control algorithm, they evaluated it using a traffic simulation platform with a single intersection. The control algorithm is applied to a fleet of connected autonomous vehicles, which can communicate with upcoming traffic lights to receive signal phase and timing information and observe their immediate surroundings. The control algorithm tells each vehicle how to accelerate and decelerate.
Their system didn’t create any stop-and-go traffic as vehicles approached the intersection. (Stop-and-go traffic occurs when cars are forced to come to a complete stop due to stopped traffic ahead). In simulations, more cars made it through in a single green phase, which outperformed a model that simulates human drivers. When compared to other optimization methods also designed to avoid stop-and-go traffic, their technique resulted in larger fuel consumption and emissions reductions. If every vehicle on the road is autonomous, their control system can reduce fuel consumption by 18 percent and carbon dioxide emissions by 25 percent, while boosting travel speeds by 20 percent.
“A single intervention having 20 to 25 percent reduction in fuel or emissions is really incredible. But what I find interesting, and was really hoping to see, is this non-linear scaling. If we only control 25 percent of vehicles, that gives us 50 percent of the benefits in terms of fuel and emissions reduction. That means we don’t have to wait until we get to 100 percent autonomous vehicles to get benefits from this approach,” she says.
Down the road, the researchers want to study interaction effects between multiple intersections. They also plan to explore how different intersection set-ups (number of lanes, signals, timings, etc.) can influence travel time, emissions, and fuel consumption. In addition, they intend to study how their control system could impact safety when autonomous vehicles and human drivers share the road. For instance, even though autonomous vehicles may drive differently than human drivers, slower roadways and roadways with more consistent speeds could improve safety, Wu says.
While this work is still in its early stages, Wu sees this approach as one that could be more feasibly implemented in the near-term.
“The aim in this work is to move the needle in sustainable mobility. We want to dream, as well, but these systems are big monsters of inertia. Identifying points of intervention that are small changes to the system but have significant impact is something that gets me up in the morning,” she says.
This work was supported, in part, by the MIT-IBM Watson AI Lab.
Business & Economy
SVKM’s CNM School Organizes Mini Marathon, Raises ₹6 lakh to support cancer patients
The event was a phenomenal success, with parents and students running for a cause
SVKM’s CNM School, as a part of their 25th-anniversary celebration, organised a Mini Marathon Run on the morning of February 26, 2023. The event was a phenomenal success, with parents and students running for a cause, and successfully raising Rs 6,00,000 for the Tata Memorial Center to support cancer patients.
With the theme “YES, WE CAN!” the event saw participation of 3,000 students, parents, and teachers of CNM School. The registration fee was Rs. 200 per participant, and all proceeds went towards the Tata Memorial Center.
“Our school has always believed in giving back to society, and this mini-marathon is a testament to that. With every step taken, we raise awareness and funds for a noble cause,” said Kavita Sanghvi, Principal of CNM School. She added: “The Management has organised this event to commemorate the 25th anniversary of SVKM’S CNM School and through this magnanimous gesture instilled lifelong values and learning within all.”
The event has raised Rs. 6,00,000 for the ImpaCCT Foundation, an acronym for “Improving Paediatric Cancer Care and Treatment.” It serves as the paediatric foundation of the Tata Memorial Hospital, which ensures that every child with cancer receives treatment and support regardless of their family background. It was established in October 2010 to ensure that every child with cancer coming to Tata Memorial Hospital, receives treatment and other support regardless of the family background.
The cheque for the raised funds was presented to the Tata Memorial Center on the day of the event.
“We invite all parents and students to join us in this selfless initiative of sharing and giving. Your participation is crucial in showing that you care,” added Principal Sanghvi.
It is said that charity begins at home. Running for a charity, whether the race is for one specific cause or the cause gets you into a specific race, gives an added purpose to the running. This event is in alignment with our credence as an institution, which has always believed in giving back to society. SVKM’s CNM School is committed to supporting young cancer patients.
Join the CNM School community and take a step towards making a difference in someone’s life.
Business & Economy
FoodTech Kerala to be held in Kochi from February 9th to 11th at Rena Event Centre
More than 60 exhibitors will showcase their products and services at this year’s FoodTech Kerala
FoodTech Kerala, the state’s premier food processing and packaging expo, will be held for the fourteen edition at Rena Event Centre from February 9 to 11, 2023. FoodTech Kerala will be a 3-day exposition and will provide an interface for the manufacturers of food processing machinery, packaging equipment as well as suppliers of ingredients and flavours for the small and big food processing units in the state, the organizers told a media conference held at Press Club on Monday.
The organizers of the expo, said more than 60 exhibitors will showcase their products and services at this year’s FoodTech Kerala edition. “It is a ‘must not miss’ event for all organizations involved in the food processing and packaging sector to showcase their products and services.
The event is endorsed and supported by Kerala Bureau of Industrial Promotion (K-BIP), CIFT, BIS and FICCI-Kerala. The key highlight of this edition will be the Industrial Pavilion featuring 20 SME units from the state which is sponsored by the K-BIP, Govt of Kerala. The presence of food processing and packaging equipment suppliers, along with the buyers and food processors will give a new dimension to the expo bringing the local buyers and national suppliers together in a single platform.
The receding of pandemic has given a major push to the food industry especially to the small scale units and home bakers in Kerala. “Food Processing Industry has made a major headway all over Kerala, with the Ernakulam district only having many food based units, employing more than 50,000 people. The food processing industry in the district has various products including spices, fish and meat, oil and extracts and ready–to-eat products.
The show will be an ideal opportunity for NRI-Returnees to set up food and bakery units to target the growing Food & HORECA sector in Kerala. The state has a fairly strong base of food processing industries. This sector plays a major role in the economic development of this region and various studies reveal that its contribution to the total output, value additions and employment generation have been regularly increasing during the recent years.
FoodTech Kerala 2023 is organised by Kochi based Cruz Expos. The company has been regularly organising the FoodTech and HotelTech series of B2B trade expos in the state since the past 14 years. Cruz Expos, in a short span of 15 years, has become one of South India’s foremost professional exhibition organiser in the B2B segment.
Chingam, K. P. Vallon Road, Kadavanthra, Kochi- 682 020. India
Mob: +91 8893304450
Business & Economy
The Workforce Institute at UKG Survey: More Than Half of Workers in India Wouldn’t Want Their Children to Have Their Job
The survey report titled ‘We can fix work’ entails a 10-country survey of employees, C-level leaders, and HR professionals which was done by The Workforce Institute at UKG
- The report launched on 9th December, 2022 at the UKG LIVE event happening in Sahara Star, Mumbai.
- They survey found that 52% of people would tell their children to pursue jobs in which they find ‘meaning’ instead of being completely driven by the pay scale.
- While money will continue to remain a driving factor when it comes to job choices, the coming generations definitely won’t regard it as the only factor.
Standing at the threshold of the future of work, The Workforce Institute at UKG, which provides research and education on critical workplace issues facing organizations around the world, surveyed employees and leaders across 10 countries to get a pulse of how they really feel about their jobs. According to the results, India ranked the highest with 66% of employees stating that they wouldn’t recommend their profession to their children or any young person that they care about, while 67% wouldn’t recommend their employers.
The full report, “We Can Fix Work,” provides insight into what parents, family members, and mentors are telling children about what they should value in their jobs and employers — urging future generations to let purpose, not money, guide career choices.
It found that on a global scale, nearly half (46%) of employees would not recommend their company nor their profession to their children or a young person they care about, and a startling 38% “wouldn’t wish my job on my worst enemy.”
“Employees and leaders alike, as has been found in this report, prioritise finding meaning in their work more than making money. We have to realise that with these shifting times, we are navigating towards a generation of workers who don’t necessarily rely on their job for survival: instead their work is more personal to them in terms of adding value to their lives, and fuelling their existing passions,” said Neil J Solomon, vice president, Asia Pacific and Latin America at UKG. “For a workforce such as this, we need to develop a workplace culture that nourishes and nurtures the overall development of its employees, takes care of their physical as well as mental wellbeing, appreciates their efforts, and maintains a mutual sense of respect with individuals at different levels of the organisation irrespective of hierarchies. This, right here, is the beginning of the future of work and employee centricity is at the heart of it.”
Workforce burnout: 45% of employees worldwide don’t want to work anymore, period
There has been a recent rise in the anti-work mindset, globally, owing to the pandemic as 77% of employees around the world want to spend less time working and more time doing things that matter to them. Amongst the C-suite leaders, it is the younger leaders that are ready to bow out of work completely, especially those belonging to the Gen Z (58%), who say they don’t want to work anymore. When compared to the C-suite leaders who are soon to be retiring from their jobs, 36% of the Millennial leaders and 33% of the Gen X leaders are ready to not work anymore. Therefore, a disinclination towards work is a phenomenon that is being observed across the ranks of employees and leaders alike.
Too much overtime affects the employee-employer relationship
If employees tend to work overtime more than twice per week, it strains their relationship with the employer and they’re even less likely to recommend their jobs or their companies to the next generation. This is evidenced by the more than half (58%) of employees, globally, who work overtime 3-4 times per week who wouldn’t recommend their profession to kids. 60% wouldn’t recommend the organisation. The report distinctly shows that more money does not equate to job satisfaction for individuals, as most people have a transactional relationship with work and only 23% of employees genuinely enjoy their work and are passionate about it. In fact, 64% of them would switch jobs right now if they could.
With purpose and trust, 88% of employees look forward to work
Now more than ever, companies must prioritise the wellbeing of their employees, not just for better outcomes in the present, but for their long-term sustainability in the future. Employees in India topped the global charts with a staggering 89% saying that they are committed in their pursuit of greater purpose at work — most of any country surveyed.
What does great look like?
Great Place To Work research finds people at the best workplaces around the world are living in a vastly different — and more fulfilling — reality than the typical employee, starting with the sense of purpose they find in their work. For those at the best workplaces:
- 90% feel like they can be themselves
- 88% look forward to going to work
- 85% believe their work has special meaning
- 85% enjoy psychologically healthy work environments
What’s more, rather than warn loved ones away, 89% of people at these best workplaces would “strongly endorse” their organizations to friends and family.
The full report, “We Need to Fix Work,” examines feedback from 2,200 employees surveyed in partnership with Workplace Intelligence across Australia, Canada, France, Germany, India, Mexico, New Zealand, the Netherlands, the U.K., and the U.S., as well as 600 C-suite leaders and 600 HR executives in the U.S.
- Learn more about UKG and why our purpose is people.
- View the latest UKG Environmental, Social, Governance (ESG) Report to learn more about how UKG is making a difference for its employees, customers, community, and environment.
- Follow UKG on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, and YouTube.
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