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Data Vehicles for Open Mobility in Cities

Kamal Farah (MIT Media Lab)
Location: Fleet Room
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Cities are sites of exchange, enabled by the flow of information and materials through populations. These flows are continuously analyzed to determine patterns and behaviors of users in relation to the urban context in which they occur. Increasingly, physical locations are mirrored by locations online, where additional content augments the understanding of a given point of interest. Navigating between them becomes a matter of connection, where each trace in the city is understood as a series of user decisions correlated with online search functions.

Recent developments in autonomous features for vehicles have effectively demonstrated self-localization abilities and predictive path planning based on the sensing of the urban context in relation to the vehicle and prior mappings. Data Vehicles localize user defined points of interest with online content in real time, such as social media, images, and weather, to develop linkages that inform travel. While this information provides feedback to the vehicle, it also creates the basis for a predictive intelligence, creating traces based on user preferences in relation to network activity. In this instance users are mobile in cities that are aware of their preferences.

Open Mobility is research currently undertaken at the MIT Media Lab in close collaboration with Ford Motor Company, investigating the utilization of vehicles as mobile sensors in cities. By interfacing with OpenXC, an open source hardware and software platform for accessing onboard vehicle data through the ODBII Port, and supplementary sensing and networking hardware to increase capacity, Data Vehicles are designed to simultaneously correlate real space traces with online activity. The real time syncing of content across physical and virtual networks in which users travel, will transform the use of cities into mediums for new forms of mobility.

• Urban mobility strategies
• System planning
• Software platform and integration: OpenXC, Libbot, CamUnits, LCM
• Sensors: Bluetooth Low Energy, GPS, Camera
• Mapping
• Predictive Intelligence
• Research, design, prototyping, and testing methods

Photo of Kamal Farah

Kamal Farah

MIT Media Lab

Kamal Farah is a research assistant in the Playful Systems group at the MIT Media Lab, where he is investigating future urban systems and the impact of emergent technologies and virtual networks on physical space. Farah has advised organizations including IBM, BBVA, and Ford Motor Company, and led projects combining design, strategy, and management for multinational clients at SOM and Ateliers Jean Nouvel. His work has been exhibited at the Architectural League, New York and Salt Institute, Istanbul. He received a BArch from the University of Miami and an MS in architecture and urban design from Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, where he is also a faculty member.