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Autonomous taxi trials underway in Dubai

Dubai’s transport authority has started road testing the region’s first autonomous taxi, designed in partnership with Dubai Silicon Oasis and DG World

As Dubai continues its smart city transformation journey, the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) has revealed that plans to introduce autonomous taxis are in the final stages, with the initiative expected to launch in early 2019.

According to the RTA, the strategy to make autonomous passenger taxis available to the public is part of a broader vision to transform Dubai into a global driverless mobility leader by 2030.

Speaking ahead of Gitex Technology Week 2018, where the RTA showcased a range of smart projects and integrated apps, Mattar Al Tayer, director general and chairman of the board of the RTA, said: “The RTA used participation at Gitex to start the test run of the first autonomous taxi in Dubai, designed in partnership with Dubai Silicon Oasis and DG World.”

Al Tayer said the vehicle, which will be tentatively run on dedicated routes at the Dubai Silicon Oasis, meets strict safety and security standards, and is equipped with cameras and sensors that fully view traffic and road conditions, control the vehicle and avoid collision.

According to Al Tayer, the autonomous taxi initiative contributes to the integration of mass transport systems by facilitating the onward movement of public transport users, specifically Dubai Metro and Dubai Tram, to reach their final destinations safely.

Smart transport options

The RTA has also launched a series of smart services, including a booking app that will eventually work with autonomous airborne taxis.

Among the smart projects and services the RTA is showcasing are a smart pedestrian crossing signal, a driving app and a loyalty points system for the metro card system, Nol.

The mobility app, known as S’hail, allows customers to book and pay for all of Dubai’s transport options – including metro, tram, bus, waterbus, taxi, e-Hail, Uber and Careem sevices – through a single platform.

At a later stage, the platform will also be integrated with other marine transport options, including the Palm Monorail, Downtown’s Dubai Trolley and the two-seater Autonomous Air Taxi (AAT) service the authority is testing with manufacturer Volocopter.

“We have launched the customer loyalty points programme, Nol Plus, the first of its kind by the Dubai government. It enables Nol Card users to earn points when using the card to travel on public transport,” said Al Tayer.

At Gitex 2018 earlier this month, the RTA also exhibited the Automated Chat Bot System, which uses artificial intelligence to respond to customer enquiries via smart communications channels. Other projects on display at the RTA’s stand included Al Merqab (e-Hail); a system for electronic booking companies; a new generation of technical testing of vehicles, based on sophisticated technologies; and the “robot cleaner initiative”, designed to clean the floors of Dubai’s metro stations.

Read about more IT projects at the Dubai Roads and Transport Authority (RTA)

Read more on Artificial intelligence, automation and robotics

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