Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Amsterdam Institute for Advanced Metropolitan Solutions (AMS Institute) have announced the establishment of the Senseable Amsterdam Lab (SAL)), a research initiative to help the city of Amsterdam (and cities worldwide) transition to a carbon-neutral city, by researching and developing cutting-edge AI and urban data technologies. SAL has partnered with the City of Amsterdam in its efforts to make Amsterdam a carbon-neutral city by the year 2050.  

The Senseable Amsterdam Lab was created from the academic partnership between MIT and AMS Institute. During the first phase of the collaboration (2015-2021), joint research was dedicated to the Roboat project to research and build a fleet of autonomous boats for Amsterdam. Roboat captured media attention globally for its cutting-edge research in robotics, environmental sensing, urban transport and design. 

We are now heading into the second phase, which focuses on the opening of SAL. The lab will focus on three research tracks in the next years: autonomous navigation, visual intelligence, and carbon neutrality in Amsterdam. These research tracks are crucial in the ambition to make Amsterdam a carbon net-zero city. SAL will facilitate the engagement of Principal Investigators (PIs) of both MIT and AMS Institute and its founding institutes to work on these tracks.

“The establishment of the Senseable Amsterdam Lab is a successful step toward expanding the impact of the work done by the Senseable City Lab in different parts of the world. Amsterdam will serve as a testbed for scientific research on achieving a carbon net-zero city for other cities worldwide to follow suit.”

Carlo Ratti

Professor at MIT Senseable City Lab & AMS PI

In line with SAL’s mission to make Amsterdam carbon-neutral, researchers will use visual intelligence to identify car models and link this information with whether the vehicles are electric or fueled by gas, diesel, etc. This information could provide an indirect indication of air pollution levels and CO2 emissions in different street segments. Environmentalists and policymakers in Amsterdam can then leverage this data to create new policies protecting a greener Amsterdam. 

With critical milestones still to be achieved — including hardware and software, design, multi-vehicle coordination, and multiple services attached to the technology — autonomous navigation opportunities offer the potential to shape travel behaviours and rethink urban life.

“The Senseable Amsterdam Lab will provide a platform for AMS Institute and MIT for collaborative research to contribute to Amsterdam becoming a net-zero city. The lab will enable space for collaboration between researchers in Boston and Amsterdam, and with local partners, and connect AI/Urban Data technologies to important urban challenges here in Amsterdam.”

Stephan van Dijk

Director of Innovation

Based on the development of critical scientific research and the engagement of local Amsterdam PIs and researchers and partners, these three research tracks will contribute to improving the quality of life in Amsterdam with the potential to extend this knowledge to other cities worldwide. 

Please click here to find out more about the Senseable Amsterdam Lab and its projects.

SAL will be holding a 5-day workshop from 29 August - 2nd September - if you’re a student in the Netherlands and would like to join, please email bensont@mit.edu.