September 23, 2021

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Big Data for Climate Environment Reporters °

How do digitization and artificial intelligence affect climate protection? The Federal Ministry of the Environment is investigating this question with a recently established research program. The scope of the projects attempts to cover the contradictory effects of new technologies.


Two independent buses have been on the road in the upper Franconian town of Hove since the beginning of June. In the 10-stop circuit, there are a maximum of four passengers and one driver on board.

Identical buses also operate in Kronach and Rehau. the whole project “Shuttle Upper Franconia model area” It cost more than 15 million euros. As is known, the Federal Minister of Transport shot twelve million of them A Lower Bavaria, L.

As operators in Bavaria embark on the transport of autonomous buses, the city of Vienna placed two self-driving electric minibuses in the corner at the end of June and completed the project “Auto-Bus Seestadt”.

After more than two years of testing, 12,000 kilometers in normal service and transporting more than 8,000 passengers, the result was “mixed”, said the workerWho preferred Wiener Lenin, with.

There were weather-related issues in both summer and winter. Austria’s largest domestic transport company explained the modest result that strong winds as well as light snow, heavy rain and fog mean that the electronic buses must be controlled manually.

Independent only in good weather

To put it more simply: as they are today, they are independent buses – and that Also applies to corresponding cars – More or less mild weather vehicles. They not only like to hand the car to the driver in the shadows of fog and rain, but also do not know how to withstand small changes on the road.

And therefore Specialized media reportThat the daisies that appeared in the spring on the edge of the Vienna road confused the intelligence of autonomous driving and caused the shuttle to stop due to an unknown obstacle. The educational computer knew the way only from pictures from the cold season – without flowers.

“The environment itself was challenging because it was constantly changing because of construction and other things,” he tried Jean-Michel Boys From the vehicle manufacturer denying To explain the modest result.

Navya delivered buses for the Vienna project, which also included Siemens was involved. The route had to be continuously modified and future work anticipated in order to ensure its smooth operation as possible, Bose said.

Of course, this is all a major effort, so studies on self-driving also caution against the fact that the technical and logistical use of artificial intelligence (AI) is too high for the environment to be mitigated in the end.

Digitization as a “fire accelerator”

Emphasizes that digitization can support transitions towards greenhouse gas neutrality in a special way بطريقة Dirk Mayer, Head of the department responsible for sustainable digitization in the Federal Ministry of Environment.

But he warns that digitization is also paradoxical, because, for example, it can further accelerate past economic activity. “It could be a kind of fire accelerator,” Meyer says.

In his view, the question of when and where digital technologies provide significant utility across the board can never be answered. First there has to be a ‘target image’ – something one wants to achieve – and then comes the question of technology.

“Technological concepts alone probably don’t solve a problem on their own,” Mayer says, emphasizing a not entirely new discovery for the environmental movement.

Also recently Five Points Program From the Ministry of Environment for the so-called “development and application of environmentally friendly, shared and good-oriented artificial intelligence” appears certain doubts.

This is how the ministry explains in the accompaniment programmerThere are also environmental downsides to AI. Not only will billions of calculations on high-performance processors consume a lot of power, the same will be true for transmitting and storing huge amounts of data.

Using AI for the benefit of the environment means keeping the direct and indirect environmental impacts of AI systems as low as possible, it is a must read. This will require further research, particularly regarding the actual environmental footprint of AI applications over their entire lifespan.

In the corresponding funding program – the ministry offers 150 million euros by 2025 – environmental research in artificial intelligence, if you will, plays a central role.

A national environmental database has been planned

Other objectives of the AI ​​program are applications for small and medium-sized businesses to reduce the use of energy and materials, Civil Society Participation Platforms For well-targeted design and use of artificial intelligence as well as big data for public environmental data.

The latter culminates in the programme’s largest single project: the creation of a national environmental database. In the next few years, environmental data from all federal levels will be summarized into a kind of environmental big data and made available to interested parties on a virtual platform.

Digitization means data flow and energy consumption – there should always be a good reason for that. (picture: Brit Sayles/Pixels)

The location of the rather large data set is Merseburg in Saxony-Anhalt. The project’s $85 million costs will not be paid for from Department of the Environment funding, but primarily from funds to strengthen the structure that has been identified along with the phase-out of coal.

Regarding autonomous driving, according to Dirk Meyer, studies show that the technology is used much less in cities than in rural areas. Initially, Meyer in Verkehr also deals with other issues, from avoiding traffic to new drives. Only then do we “use artificial intelligence,” he says.

Meyer continues: “In traffic debates in particular, people often pretend that self-driving could eventually solve traffic problems. This is utter nonsense.”

Hopefully the independent buses in Upper Franconia won’t hear that.

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