Plans are afoot to enlist artificial intelligence in anticipating traffic snarls in the year-end and New Year holidays.

Central Nippon Expressway Co. said it will start trials of an AI-assisted forecasting system to predict congestion on the Tomei, Chuo and other expressways during the Bon holiday season next month.

It will fine-tune the system after analyzing the results of traffic jams predicted by AI for August when hordes of Japanese return to their hometowns to remember their ancestors.

Under the current setup, company employees known as “expressway drive advisers” study traffic conditions to make predictions several months ahead.

Each branch of the company is assigned only one such employee to complete the forecasting task, which typically takes about two weeks.

The team members first go through data on the frequency and distance of gridlocks in their jurisdictions during the previous three years for any duplications and errors.

They then make predictions by factoring in the days in which the year’s holiday season will fall and expected change in traffic conditions due to the opening of new roads in the areas they oversee.

Central Nippon Expressway said AI-assisted forecasting could cut the workload to about a week.

The company said it will upload data on major traffic snarls for the five years through 2017 so the AI system can function properly in predicting traffic conditions for the year-end and New Year holiday period.

Tapping into AI forecasting will allow expressway drive advisers to focus on ways to ease congestion and make announcements of traffic conditions in advance, the company said.