The Grab-NUS AI Lab is at the NUS Institute of Data Science and will tap data from Grab’s platform, which has processed more than two billion rides, to analyse real-world transport challenges in the region.

The research facility, which has been launched with an initial investment of $6mn, is Grab’s first AI lab as well as NUS’ first facility of this kind with a commercial partner, said a report.

The partnership also would leverage the university’s research expertise in AI and bring together Grab’s research scientists and its faculty members to establish traffic patterns and “identify ways to directly impact mobility and liveability” of Southeast Asian cities, the two companies said.

NUS is part of Singapore’s Data Science Consortium, which aims to boost the country’s capabilities in the field as well as analytics and facilitate research collaboration between institutes of higher learning, research institutes, and market players.

The research facility would start by focusing on cities in which Grab operated, before expanding its efforts to include other cities in Southeast Asia and looking at challenges such as road congestion.

The Grab-NUS AI Lab team, comprising 28 researchers, would build an AI platform that was integrated with large-scale machine learning and visual analytics and able to develop applications from Grab’s datasets. These, for instance, could help transport agencies monitor and optimise traffic flow.

The research facility would look to build algorithms with several key objectives, including offering more personalised services based on passengers’ needs and intent, matching drivers to jobs they preferred, and improving accuracy of pick-up points.