Traffic in Malta is a notorious nightmare with no proper solution in sight… but one company wants to change that, through a digital brain which would essentially take over and manage it all with the power of AI. And last night, it broke a Shark Tank Malta record by securing a €1.3 million investment.
Last night’s episode kicked off with Maltese AI expert and former Valletta mayor Alexiei Dingli’s pitch of traffic management, with a request of €1 million for a 40% stake. What followed was a 13-minute rollercoaster with a massive payoff at the end.
As Dingli clarified in his pitch, Digital Traffic Brain would boast a number of advantages over the likes of Google or Apple Maps.
“You as a commuter need the most effective route,” he explained, saying current apps many of us use “don’t take into consideration what’s happening throughout the network.”
“So even though we might leave from Point A to Point B, the system will probably give us the same route,” Dingli continued. “If you have a centralised system, it will balance those routes amongst the entirety of the system”, he said, with a further question from the sharks prompting him to point at the potential eventuality of an app being installed on users’ phones for these directions to be sent.
Other features of the Digital Traffic Brain would include tapping into the around 400 already-installed cameras all over Malta’s roads to monitor traffic and “take action immediately, and not at a later stage, after an accident happens”. Emergency vehicles, bus systems and the opening and closing of tidal lanes – or turning on and off of traffic lights – would also be completely automated and controlled by this AI brain.
Of course, a system this smart and this constantly plugged-in would also increase the efficiency (and frequency) of enforcement, with Dingli making reference to what would essentially be “a speed camera on every road”.
In its system report, Dingli said the Digital Traffic Brain could provide anywhere up to a 15% improvement in Malta’s road network.
With the closest comparison of a system that goes up to this level only seemingly present in China, Dingli also left the door open to the Digital Traffic Brain being taken abroad and using it in a number of other cities around the world.
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“For me you are like the Steve Jobs of Malta,” shark and tech entrepreneur Mark Bajada told Dingli following his pitch, before providing his counter-offer.
“Having full trust in your abilities and your legacy, I would be happy to give you the €1 million ask you are making, but for 50%,” Bajada said. “I would add to that: my team would be responsible for the commercialisation and internationalisation of this process. Plus I would also be happy to add another €300,000 in working capital, because we would need money to move forward.”
Dingli was “honoured” to accept the proposal put forward by Bajada, who he said he had been following for years now.
“You’re acquiring a genius, you’re investing in the guy,” the other sharks told Bajada, congratulating him on the record-breaking investment.
“Our system can make a huge difference in the lives of many people, and I think that’s the most important part of what we’re doing here,” Dingli said in a post-pitch interview.
What do you make of the Digital Traffic Brain?