Over the past two months, the Dubai Roads & Transport Authority (RTA), in collaboration with Dubai Properties had been conducting trials for a Smart Autonomous Vehicle in the city’s Business Bay district. During the trial run, the driverless vehicles were used by around 1700 riders. A survey covering 736 users, aged 20-40, revealed an overall satisfaction rating of 91%.
Previous trials were successfully conducted in Dubai World Trade Center and Mohammed bin Rashid Boulevard.
The RTA is considering expanding the use of the autonomous vehicle in other locations in Dubai, including metro stations, malls and tourist attractions. Simultaneously, regulations and legislations are being drafted by RTA for governing the smart transport strategy in the emirate and creating a clear legal framework that regulates the usage of self-driving vehicles in first and last miles, central areas, commercial complexes, residential areas and parks.
The smart vehicle runs on electrically powered engines with an eight-hour battery life and can accommodate up to 10 passengers (6 sitting and 4 standing). It can can travel at a speed of 10 km per hour. The vehicle is designed to operate in closed interior streets within areas such as residential complexes and entertainment venues.
The vehicle travels on virtual routes, which can easily be reset to accommodate sudden changes as required. The vehicle is fitted with requisite safety and security features, thanks to its four-sided laser sensors using GPS coordinates. It can detect objects up to 40 meters away, and it automatically slows down when the object is two meters away, coming to a complete halt when the object approaches less than two meters.
CEO of Licensing Agency and Chairperson of RTA Smart Vehicles Committee, Ahmed Hashem Bahrozyan, said, “The satisfaction rating of vehicle safety specifications reached 92%, while 91% were interested in providing autonomous vehicles as a means of public transport. 80% of respondents expected that the technology would improve traffic safety and reduce road accidents, while 82% expected the technology would ease traffic congestion, and 90% expected the technology to result in less fuel consumption.”
These trials form part of the Dubai Autonomous Transportation Strategy, which aims to transform 25% of all trips in Dubai into driverless journeys by 2030. Autonomous vehicles are one of three key projects & initiatives undertaken by the Smart Vehicles Team, as outlined by Ahmed Hashem Bahrozyan.
The second is the smart testing yard project, which is currently being implemented in the Dubai Driving Center. It is aimed at converting drivers’ testing vehicles into smart vehicles, capable of detecting testing maneuvers areas and gauging the driver’s response to each maneuver. The vehicles are fitted with powerful cameras (1 in the front, 1 in the rear, 2 in the right and left sides and 1 onboard to read the maneuver lines and road lines) & 8 sensors to specify the direction of the face, steering wheel, safety belt, brake use, handbrake use and acceleration.
The cameras and sensors are linked to a central processor capable of capturing various information and automatically calculating errors made.
The third one is the heavy vehicles safety project, which aims to boost the efficiency of heavy vehicles and road safety by monitoring drivers through remote sensors. The service was introduced to transport companies in Dubai in early February and will continue until the end of July 2017 as an optional phase, followed by a mandatory implementation.