Dr. Charles Sprouse Talks AI in Transportation: How AI Could Help Safeguard the Climate

Dr. Charles Sprouse. Photo Copyright 2018 by John Tuttle.

Dr. Charles Sprouse, a professor at Benedictine College, Atchison, KS, earned his Ph.D. in mechanical engineering in 2016. He has also designed numerous tech devices. On September 29th, he and two of his guest-colleagues were speakers at the “Artificial Intelligence and the Human Person” lecture held on the Benedictine campus. It was part of a series of lectures which comprised the annual meeting of the Fellowship of Catholic Scholars.

As the speaker who delivered the first talk, Sprouse discussed artificial intelligence in relation to its current and futuristic implications in the industry of transportation and what it would mean for passengers and pedestrians.

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Sprouse had decided he would lecture on the uses of AI in this particular field due to its current inundation of AI-minded developers. He informed his peers and the other listeners that at an AI conference earlier in the year the nonprofit Ecomotion “recognized 580 new startup companies in the area of smart transportation.” Thus, it is a relevant topic accumulating a growing interest among fulfillment organizations and potential users alike.

“This is a huge field,” said Sprouse, who proceeded to go over a few of the nuts and bolts of the use of AI in our vehicles. With vehicles in the 21st century being “on demand,” for functions such commuting back and forth to work, an autonomous car could serve several helpful purposes. Sprouse poses that if a self-driving, AI-oriented car were able to hold multiple people and offer the same usability as an Uber vehicle, an individual who just needs a car for work commute could end up “sharing that car with about 20 people.”

A number of people would own parts of a single car, so to speak. Thus, each of the joint owners would not have to pay as much for their segment of the vehicle as they would for an entire car of their own. Dr. Sprouse said this implication would likely result in “fewer cars” overall and that it would be economically beneficial to the car owners.

So this function of AI in transportation would not only keep people’s transportation bills lower, but it could also have the potential to do less damage to the climate than our present transport situation. Currently, there is a bit of (what the scientific community believes to be) a global climate crisis due primarily to mankind’s greenhouse gas emissions. The average car generates about six tons of carbon dioxide annually.

Using an AI system in a vehicle would save time. With its own artificial intelligence, the car would take the quickest route and would not spend as much time as you and I do in searching for an open spot in the parking lot. So it would be able to deliver more people to their destinations in a more timely fashion than any human taxi service.

If Sprouse’s proposed Uber-like utility of vehicles is employed in the future, it could lower the threatening amounts of carbon dioxide being produced. And this, inevitably, would start to decrease the risk of extreme climate change.


Dr. Charles Sprouse Talks AI in Transportation: How AI Could Help Safeguard the Climate was originally published in Hacker Noon on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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