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San Diego
Tuesday, May 21, 2024

AI Fuels 10% Job Growth in SD’s Transportation Cluster – Even Amid Pandemic

The Brookings Institution recently named San Diego as one of the country’s top adopters of Artificial Intelligence (AI). According to Brookings, startups and established firms in the area comprise an $11 billion “transportation value chain.”

Highlighting this growing trend within the local economy, the San Diego Regional EDC has released the third study in a series detailing the proliferation of AI and ML within San Diego County’s key economic clusters.


The report – “Mobilizing the Future: AI and San Diego’s Transportation Cluster” – quantifies the economic impact of the region’s transportation cluster and explores the proliferation of AI and ML technologies that have helped transform San Diego into a global trade hub.

Beyond Autonomous Driving


While people become more comfortable with autonomous-driving vehicles, San Diego companies are deploying AI and ML in transportation even beyond consumer use, according to the EDC report.


One in three San Diego-based transportation and related manufacturing companies are either developing or adopting AI and ML technologies – achieving levels of precision and accuracy otherwise unattainable by humans. The transportation sector’s level of adoption is measurably higher than the average AI and ML engagement rate, which is 25 percent across all industries, according to the study.

San Diego startups like Airspace and Boxton are enabling the shipment of goods in the quickest, most cost-effective way while large firms Lytx and TuSimple are improving safety in transportation.


And while established brands Cubic and SANDAG are streamlining travel and commutes for individuals, defense contractors BAE Systems and General Dynamics NASSCO are employing AI to mobilize troops and supplies to drive mission success and safety.

The web-based study, underwritten by Booz Allen Hamilton, includes video case studies on local transportation companies as well as more details on the $11 billion economic impact of the region’s transportation cluster.

“San Diego is home to some of the most innovative and influential transportation technology companies in the world,” said Eduardo Velasquez, research director at San Diego Regional EDC. “The rapid development and adoption of AI in Transportation has uniquely positioned the region as a leader in solving global challenges such as climate change and supply chain disruptions brought about by the pandemic.

Key Findings

According to the report, San Diego’s transportation cluster is big and growing, supporting more than 90,000 local jobs and contributing an estimated $11 billion to the regional economy each year.


Despite the pandemic, employment in the cluster has increased 10 percent during the last five years, the EDC study found.

AI and ML in transportation has become much more than just autonomous vehicles. The study also concludes that the transportation cluster drives global connectivity and competitiveness, innovations that bring enormous economic benefit to the region, including advanced manufacturing jobs.

Tackling Global Challenges

“It is important to remember that transportation in San Diego includes not only our personal vehicles, but also a globally connected market supported by an international border crossing, a shipping port, and an international airport,” said Joe Rohner, director of Artificial Intelligence at Booz Allen Hamilton and leader of the firm’s West Coast AI business.


“The study series continues to illustrate the implementation of AI and ML technologies across diverse industries is perpetuating San Diego’s leadership in tackling global challenges,” Rohner added. “Booz Allen is ready to engage with our region’s leaders and industry partners to support this work.”


Booz Allen employs approximately 1,400 professionals in San Diego, working on cybersecurity, analytics, engineering and IT modernization.

The EDC study calls transportation a “key and rapidly growing” piece of the San Diego regional economy. While employment in all other sectors has actually contracted 2.3 percent since 2016, transportation employment notched 10 percent growth during the past five years — even amid the coronavirus pandemic, adding 4,000 additional jobs.


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