Local firm creates AI app to automate data gathering for road damage

Chai (right) and Nueon AI chief financial officer Marcus Chai delighted to be announced one of the MyHackathon 2020 Marathon category winners in a virtual award ceremony.

By Karen Bong

KUCHING, Dec 11: A homegrown technology company Neuon AI Sdn Bhd has created an artificial intelligence (AI) system to automate the collection data of road damages to help government and related stakeholders improve the delivery of road maintenance and asset management even in rural areas while cutting costs and saving time.

The ‘RoadPlus+: AI-Powered Road Asset Management Infrastructure’ was one of the digital solutions which won the “MYHackathon 2020 – Digitalising Government Services” innovation competition in the Marathon category recently.

Neuon AI team bagged RM250,000 with an additional RM50,000 from the Sarawak Digital Economy Corporation (SDEC) to fund its pioneer project for Pilot Deployment for the next 12 months, working together with related ministries and agencies.

Its chief executive officer (CEO) Dr Chai Kok Chin said they were so happy and thankful to have the opportunity to deliver the AI road asset management technology in 2021 by bringing together people, power and technology.

“Through this project, it has highly motivated us in that Sarawakians are capable of delivering state-of-the-art and in-house AI technology to serve and resolve our local needs.

“With the results, testimonials and feedback collected, we gained more confident about our own technology,” he told DayakDaily when contacted today.

On the inspiration to develop RoadPlus, Chai explained that it came following months of discussions with Public Work Department (JKR) Sarawak and CMS Road Sdn Bhd where they discovered that the existing work processes from identifying and recording damages to carrying out maintenance were tedious, slow and costly as everything relied on human and manual labour as well as expensive equipment.

“And so we proposed our innovative solution which consisted of three main components namely RoadPlus Ai Core, RoadPlus reporting mobile application and RoadPlus cloud-based platform.

“We have successfully deployed our RoadPlus App which is able to digitise road damages like potholes, cracks, surface distress and others automatically including accurate GPS location just by using a smartphone. These data are stored in a database and hosted on the RoadPlus cloud,” he said.

More importantly, he pointed out that the technology can accelerate the data collection process for a wide coverage of road networks especially in rural areas as every member of the public can use the app to report the current condition of the roads and update the information in real-time all year long.

“Our solution focuses on simplicity, user-friendly and affordability where the people themselves can be the eye of the government and use the app to contribute to maintaining the road networks in Sarawak.

“In short, we aim to work with the government and the people in enhancing and maintaining roads by unifying the relevant data onto a single cloud platform with an economic and yet powerful AI technology,” he added.

On the current project milestone, Chai said it is currently in the demonstration of the prototype in real environment stage in which they have successfully digitised about 300km of the road network in Kuching.

“We expect to cover the whole Kuching roads in the next few weeks but the rains posed as a challenge and to share the report with SDEC. We are now continuously fine-tuning our RoadPlus AI Core to achieve higher accuracy rate,” he elaborated.

With an aim to digitise the whole Malaysia road networks in 2021, he added that Neuon AI is open for any collaborations to speed up the process and deliver the benefits for the country.

Since its establishment in December 2018, this young company that specialised in AI and computer vision technology has delivered several projects including Malaysia Flora Project (AI Plant Species Recognition) in PlantNet App, GoTani Precision Farming at AgroFest 2019 and WerkHr for human resource management.

They also carry out research in partnership with CIRARD, France, and NOCERAL, Malaysia as well as Deakin University, University Malaya, University Malaysia Sarawak (Unimas) and many more.

Meanwhile, MyHackathon 2020 was a programme under the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (Mosti) that aims to bring the nation’s brightest minds to create digital solutions that would help improve the delivery of key public services to the people. -DayakDaily