RAIM (Responsible Automation for Inclusive Mobility)

Connected cities

To realise the full social and economic benefits of AI, new technologies must be sensitive to the diverse needs of the whole population. This means understanding and reflecting the complexity of individual needs, the variety of perceptions, and the constraints that might guide interaction with AI. This challenge is no more relevant than in building AI systems for older populations, where the role, potential, and outstanding challenges are all highly significant.

The RAIM (Responsible Automation for Inclusive Mobility) project will address how on-demand, electric autonomous vehicles (EAVs) might be integrated within public transport systems in the UK and Canada to meet the complex needs of older populations, resulting in improved social, economic, and health outcomes.

The research integrates a multidisciplinary methodology – integrating qualitative perspectives and quantitative data analysis into AI-generated population simulations and supply optimisation. Throughout the project, there is a firm commitment to interdisciplinary interaction and learning, with researchers being drawn from urban geography, ageing population health, transport planning and engineering, and artificial intelligence.

The RAIM project will produce a diverse set of outputs that are intended to promote change and discussion in transport policymaking and planning. As a primary goal, the project will simulate and evaluate the feasibility of an on-demand EAV system for older populations. This requires advances around the understanding and prediction of the complex interaction of physical and cognitive constraints, preferences, locations, lifestyles and mobility needs within older populations, which differs significantly from other portions of society. With these patterns of demand captured and modelled, new methods for meeting this demand through optimisation of on-demand EAVs will be required.

The project will adopt a forward-looking, interdisciplinary approach to the application of AI within these research domains, including using Deep Learning to model human behaviour, Deep Reinforcement Learning to optimise the supply of EAVs, and generative modelling to estimate population distributions.

A second component of the research involves exploring the potential adoption of on-demand EAVs for ageing populations within two regions of interest. The two areas of interest – Manitoba, Canada, and the West Midlands, UK – are facing the combined challenge of increasing older populations with service issues and reducing patronage on existing services for older travellers.

The RAIM project has established partnerships with key local partners, including local transport authorities – Winnipeg Transit in Canada, and Transport for West Midlands in the UK – in addition to local support groups and industry bodies. These partnerships will provide insights and guidance into the feasibility of new AV-based mobility interventions, and a direct route to influencing future transport policy. As part of this work, the project will propose new approaches for assessing the economic case for transport infrastructure investment, by addressing the wider benefits of improved mobility in older populations.

At the heart of the project is a commitment to enhancing collaboration between academic communities in the UK and Canada. RAIM puts in place opportunities for cross-national learning and collaboration between partner organisations, ensuring that the challenges faced in relation to ageing mobility and AI are shared. RAIM furthermore will support the development of a next generation of researchers, through interdisciplinary mentoring, training, and networking opportunities.