Volkswagen Group of America, Inc. (VWGoA) and the City of Carmel, IN, have a research project that uses existing city cameras and Volkswagen machine-vision software to help optimize traffic flows, analyze street usage patterns and support emergency response.
The city will have a dashboard that gathers data from various locations and highlights key learnings. The software does not track individuals or individual vehicles; it automatically pixelates faces and license plates. Still, there are privacy concerns here. The software also does not store images, but only the counting data it generates, as a further form of privacy protection. Still, there are privacy concerns here as there is no assurance that tracking could be enabled.
This joint project is the first for Volkswagen globally. The company says that its software could have applications in various multi-modal transportation solutions in cities worldwide. The project actually grew from an advanced machine-vision software that Volkswagen developed in-house to help optimize production. In Wolfsburg, Germany, Europe’s biggest automotive factory, and VW’s EV hub in Zwickau, the software is used in cameras for quality checks on vehicle assembly and in logistics. The developers think the software could have applications in a city environment.
Using cameras already in place around key Carmel intersections, the Volkswagen software will analyze traffic flow of cars and bicycles, pedestrian movement and other data such as parking spot use to help city planners identify trends in mobility and usage. It can also provide an automated data snapshot of an intersection or street location to support emergency responses and reaction to natural disasters. It could in theory help with immediate needs, such as the flow of traffic before and after major events. An efficient traffic flow could also help to reduce environmental impact of transportation.
“The future of transportation will require more data connections and sophisticated analysis than ever before,” said Johan de Nysschen, chief operating officer at Volkswagen Group of America. “We see our tool as an opportunity to provide cities with more usable data on mobility to help shape their future transportation needs.”
Teams at Volkswagen Group in Germany have been in discussion with other cities around the world about deploying machine vision software and believe it could have applications in various multi-modal transportation solutions.