The UAE is well on its way to implementing a far-reaching autonomous driving future, with projects already underway.
Self-driving is part of a bigger sustainability agenda.
AI, and sensors: New kings of the roads.
Autonomous vehicles are already clocking up thousands of miles on public roads in several different countries.
In China, Daimler has been granted a license to test its self-driving cars on Beijing’s public roads while in the United States, about 50 companies are testing autonomous vehicles in California, Statista reports.
A KPMG study found that the Netherlands is actually the country with the highest level of readiness for autonomous driving with a score of 27.73. The study rated countries on 26 variables within 4 pillars: policy & legislation, technology & innovation, infrastructure, and consumer acceptance.
Courtesy of Statista: (Statista.com)
The UAE scored 8 globally, and that’s not surprising given that the country is highly active in the field, with set milestones for achieving certain sustainability goals.
UAE Green Mobility
At yesterday’s World Green Economy Summit, Ahmad Al Muhairbi, secretary-general of Dubai Supreme Council of Energy, said the difference between Dubai and others is that the ratio of implementation and executing projects is very high.
He said 1,500MW of projects under execution in Dubai and this capacity will expand to 5,000 by 2030 at a single site of Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park.
Dubai Supreme Energy Council launched green mobility project.
“We started it almost two years ago and we have 4,000 vehicles, including 1,000 electric vehicles. Dewa installed 200 charging stations in addition to other stations installed by car suppliers. Then we embarked incentives plan for green mobility by introducing free charging, free registration and free parking by Roads and Transport Authority. Our objective is to reach 10% by 2030 in green mobility, which is equivalent of reducing over 270,000 tonnes of carbon emission,” Muhairbi said.
“Our ultimate objective is to be the cleanest city by 2050.”
Dubai targets 25% of all journeys to be self-driving by 2030, as part of a goal set by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, when he launched the Dubai Smart Self-Driving vision in 2016.
Masdar launches auto-Shuttle
Masdar, Abu Dhabi’s renewable energy company, in collaboration with French autonomous vehicle producer Navya and the Department of Transport, unveiled ‘Autonom Shuttle’ – an 8-seater self-driving electric vehicle capable of carrying 12 people with a top speed of 25km/h, Daily Khaleej Times reported.
Ibrahim Sarhan Al Hmoudi, acting executive director, surface transport sector at the Department of Transport (DoT), on Monday, said Autonom Shuttle is based on the concept of first and last-mile transportation picking passengers from Abu Dhabi City to Masdar City, and shuttling them at 4-5 stops inside Masdar City.
The vehicle uses on-board cameras and sensitive LIDAR sensors creating 3D and 2D “perception maps” to detect obstacles and their position relative to the vehicle. GPS technology further allows the vehicle to define its precise location, as well as V2X to communicate with traffic lights, according to Khaleej Times.
Al Hmoudi said autonomous vehicles would reduce fatalities on roads while providing quality social time for passengers.
“Today more than 94% of car accidents and fatalities are due to human error.”
Al Hmoudiadded that the legal aspects of who is responsible should an accident happen are not yet sorted out.
In terms of constraints, Al Hmoudi mentions long charging hours at electric stations.
Electric cars, because of the high cost of batteries, often half the price of the car itself, cot more than gas-powered cars.
Also, charging times take 6 to 8 hours, compared to mere minutes with internal combustion engines.
“Some EV manufacturers have introduced cars that can be charged within 30 minutes but they cost more than $100,000,” Al Hmoudi said.
“We are also going to add six vehicles. We are doing testing on weather conditions and safety aspects in cooperation with the DoT. We are doing lot of research on batteries,” he said.
He added that more than 50 stations are available at major shopping malls and other high-density areas.
Dubai’s first self-driving taxi was tested during Gitex Technology Week, the emirate’s Road and Transport Authority said.
Mattar Al Tayer, director general and chairman of the board of executive directors of the RTA said the autonomous vehicle would be tested initially on dedicated routes at Dubai Silicon Oasis.
The taxi is equipped with cameras and sensors that analyze traffic and road conditions, which inform the car’s speed and direction to avoid collisions.