Artificial intelligence (AI) is soon to hit the Shanghai Subway in an attempt to make buying tickets at the busy railway stations a whole lot easier. The new AI ticket machines will use voice and facial recognition in which to make the process a much smoother, and quicker one.
Passengers will be able to speak to these machines like humans, telling them where they need to go. The AI will then calculate the best route for them and allow them to purchase the ticket. “Passengers don’t even need to use any special word to activate the kiosk,” said director of intelligent speech recognition at Alibaba’s Institute of Data Science Technology.
The voice technology that’s to be integrated within the ticket machine will be advanced enough so that it can filter out background noise to ensure it hears the customer clearly. The facial recognition technology will match a photo submitted by the passenger as part of its verification process.
No set date has been advised yet for the launch of these new systems. However, Ant Financial’s Alipay payment option for Metro will be ready to use early next year, which is a smartphone app developed specifically for the Shanghai Metro. More than 10 million individual trips are taken on Shanghai Metro on an average weekday. The system itself accounts for more than 50 per cent of all public transport used within the city of Shanghai.
China’s goals as a country include becoming an “innovation centre for AI” by 2030 that’s will be worth around $150 billion. A partner at international law firm Pinsent Masons, Paul Haswell said that Alibaba, “could take the lead in rolling out artificial intelligence systems in China’s transport sector”. However, he also advised that “these would not be enough to differentiate Alibaba from the AI solutions being developed by Baidu, Tencent, and Huawei.”
Alibaba has its fingers in lots of different pies, and collaborating with Shanghai Metro means it’s now made its way into the transport industry too. Next, the company would like to expand further and integrate its technologies at airports and other commercial establishments such as retail outlets, restaurants, and company reception desks.