• June 04, 2024

    RECAP – AI in Motion: Shaping the Future of Mobility & Safety Symposium

    On May 15-17, 2024, the Texas Department of Transportation hosted the AI in Motion Symposium: Shaping the Future of Mobility & Safety in Austin, Texas. PacTrans, in collaboration with TTI and Region 6 UTC (Southern Plains Transportation Center), co-organized the event, drawing over 150 participants passionate about transportation AI.

    The symposium kicked off with two tours on the first day: a visit to the University of Texas at Austin Supercomputer: Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC), followed by a tour of the Tesla Giga Factory.

    Day two commenced with a fireside chat titled “Trailblazing Mobility: Fireside Chat with Matt Van Horn.” PacTrans Director Yinhai Wang conversed with Matt Van Horn, co-founder of Zimride (now Lyft) and co-founder & CEO of June (acquired by Weber LLC), delving into the forefront technologies of AI and their potential impacts on mobility and safety.

    The day continued with a series of seminars, breakout sessions, and poster presentations, addressing the challenges and opportunities of AI in transportation. Among the highlights were:

    • “Steering Through AI: State DOTs’ Roadmap” where leaders like Marc Williams, Executive Director at Texas Department of Transportation, Tim Gatz, Executive Director at Oklahoma Department of Transportation, and Monica Tibbits-Nutt, Secretary of the MassDOT, shared the State DOT’s vision on AI research and its applications in transportation.
    • “Empowering Future Transportation Professionals: Human-Centered AI with Data Integration and Analytics” presented by Muhammad Karim, Postdoctoral Research Associate at UW Smart Transportation Applications & Research Lab (STAR Lab), who focused on workforce development for the next generation of transportation professionals. He shared his personal journey into the world of AI, highlighting the unique challenges and opportunities faced by those without a formal AI background. “AI and data analytics are game changers for making transportation systems safer and more efficient. It’s important for us to break down the complexities of AI and show newcomers how these tools can be used effectively,” Muhammad said during his presentation.


    During the poster session, PacTrans showcased the work of several student researchers, fostering knowledge exchange among peers and industry experts:

    • PhD student Nutvara Jantarathaneewat (UW) presented her research titled, “Detecting Lateral Offset Distance on Rural Roads in Thailand Using Point Cloud Data.” 
    • PhD student Bingzhang Wang (UW) presented his research titled, “Traffic Performance GPT (TP-GPT): Real-Time Data Informed Intelligent ChatBot for Transportation Surveillance and Management.”

    This symposium served as a pilot effort for the TRB AI for Mobility and Safety (AIMS) Conference scheduled to launch in Seattle in late May 2025. Thank you to all the speakers and presenters for sharing their valuable experiences, and all participants for their dedication and support. 

    Read more about the attending student experiences here!

    “I attended the AI in Motion symposium to present my poster on the topic of ‘Detecting Lateral Offset Distance on Rural Roads in Thailand Using Point Cloud Data.’ During the symposium, I had the opportunity to exchange knowledge and experiences with participants working in the same field. Additionally, I was able to connect with people who work or study similar topics.

    There were many sessions during the symposium, ranging from technical to application-focused, and discussing the challenges of AI in transportation. In my opinion, the most notable session was ‘Empowering Future Transportation Professionals: Understanding Human-Centered AI with Data Integration and Analytics,’ as it aligned with my research. From that session, I had the chance to listen to a lecture on data management, which is crucial in the AI domain. My favorite part of the symposium was the chance to tour the Tesla factory. This tour provided insights into how the largest car factory manages to produce innovative vehicles efficiently and with high quality. Even though most of the content related to car manufacturing, which is outside my field, it prompted me to think about transportation in new ways. For instance, I considered how they prioritize vehicle safety, which is a key component in ensuring road safety.”

    PhD student Nutvara Jantarathaneewat (UW)


    “AI in Motion Symposium was a wonderful event! I presented my research poster about traffic analytics framework integrating LLMs, which attracted many experts from both academia and agencies to have discussions. The event provided a well-organized platform for researchers and practitioners who are interested in or work on AI in transportation topics to build connections with each other, and to inspire sharing innovative directions in the next-generation intelligent transportation systems.

    I was really into the fireside chat session between Professor Yinhai Wang and Matt Van Horn, the co-founder of several startup companies like Lyft and June. The questions posed in the talk inspired Matt to share many interesting experiences, insightful perspectives and broad visions as a startup founder. The Tesla super factory tour was also an amazing experience where Cybertrucks are assembled on the automated streamline.”

    – PhD student Bingzhang Wang (UW)