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UK transport put on path to success with pioneering AI accelerator for the Innovate UK BridgeAI programme

Posted 9 May 2024

UK transport put on path to success with pioneering AI accelerator for the Innovate UK BridgeAI programme

As part of the Innovate UK BridgeAI programme, Digital Catapult has announced that seven cutting-edge companies from across the country will join its High Growth AI Accelerator for transport, to drive adoption of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML). The new cohort will develop vital solutions to unlock economic growth and investment opportunities, and will partner with transport leaders to solve operational challenges, such as improving optimisation and efficiency for Transport for London (TfL), given that the market for AI in transportation is projected to soar to £5 billion by 2027

TfL, which manages a bus fleet of approximately 9,300 vehicles operating on 675 routes across the city of London, will work with OpenCapacity and PodTech to achieve productivity and efficiency gains, while improving the accessibility of bus service. TfL will explore how a new solution could improve the experience of its service users, primarily supporting those that travel across the city by bus and use a wheelchair, as the adoption of AI solutions in the transport sector is expected to increase significantly over the next five years.  

The AI-powered solution will detect and communicate the real-time status of wheelchair priority spaces on buses to its customers, making use of smartphone technology and an integration with its journey planning app, TfL Go. As 87% of the UK population use a smartphone, the solution will look to improve journey planning for all passengers, increase levels of customer satisfaction, and help the transport operator to maintain levels of operational efficiency during busy periods.

The cohort will also consider new ways to support transport and infrastructure companies, as Bahut Limited and Hackney AI Ltd will work on a container placement optimisation challenge with the Port of Tyne. The challenge will consider how shipping containers can be placed in an order that will minimise the number of times they need to be moved, when they are retrieved. Reorganisation currently accounts for 35% of all container movements within the terminal, and a new AI-powered solution could see a reduction in fuel consumption and carbon emissions, marking a new era of sustainable logistics optimisation tools. 

Atera Analytics Ltd, Singular Intelligence Limited and iPurvey will collaborate closely with RailX, to automate and optimise rail and road freight bookings made via RailX’s online platform. Decarbonising the booking process while maintaining efficiency and driving business productivity is paramount to RailX’s long-term commercial success, and will demonstrate the value of AI and ML to achieve sustainability gains in the transport sector. 

The announcement marks the commencement of the 14-week programme, where Digital Catapult will provide each startup with a range of resources, including computational power, strategic guidance, holistic diagnostics, tailored support, and a showcase platform to accelerate the readiness of their AI and ML solutions. Programme participants will also gain access to a dynamic ecosystem of AI developers and adopters, opportunities for workshops, masterclasses, and peer-to-peer learning, to sharpen their expertise and capabilities. 

The High Growth AI Accelerator for BridgeAI is designed to provide startups and scaleups with a space for experimentation to help them to develop responsible, ethical and desirable AI and ML solutions. These solutions are designed to effectively tackle the current challenges, while also being flexible enough to adapt according to future operational needs. This will create new opportunities for collaborative endeavours between the cohort and industrial partners in the long-term, driving sustainable growth of the transport sector.