The Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, attended initial tests of the world’s first autonomous pods. The project is developed by the Roads and Transport Authority, RTA, in cooperation with Next Future Transportation; and part of RTA’s efforts under Dubai Future Accelerators initiatives.
The initial tests took place on the sidelines of the World Government Summit, WGS 2018, in Dubai, and was attended by H.H. Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of Dubai Executive Council, H.H. Sheikh Mansour bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, and Mohammad bin Abdullah Al Gergawi, Minister of Cabinet Affairs and The Future.
The autonomous pods are designed to travel short and medium distances in dedicated lanes. They can be coupled in 15 to 20 seconds or detached, depending on the destination of riders, in 5 seconds. The autonomous pods are fitted with cameras and electromechanical technologies to carry out the coupling and detaching processes, and this feature can be activated while in motion.
Each pod measures 2.87m in length, 2.24m in width and 2.82m in height. It weighs about 1,500kg and has a capacity to accommodate ten riders - six seated, four standing. The autonomous pod is fitted with a battery that supports 3 hours of operation, and can be fully charged in 6 hours. Its average speed is 20k/h.
Mattar Al Tayer, Director-General and Chairman of the Board of Executive Directors of the RTA, said, "The pilot test of driverless units is directed by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, in the context of transforming Dubai into the smartest city worldwide. It is also part of RTA’s endeavours to provide autonomous transport by carrying out technological tests under Dubai’s climatic conditions.
"It echoes the Dubai Autonomous Transport Strategy aimed at converting 25 percent of mobility journeys in Dubai to autonomous transportation by 2030. The move also contributes to achieving the integration of public transit means and people’s happiness through providing smooth, quick and innovative transit means," added Al Tayer.
"The RTA has signed an agreement with the American Next Future Inc. to develop autonomous units named NX1 as part of the initial phase of Dubai Future Accelerators. The prototypes of these units are manufactured in Italy and shipped to Dubai for trials. These pods run on a virtual pre-configured and programmed lane and are overseen by the operational system," he continued.
Al Tayer noted that the success of initial tests of these units will bring about a breakthrough in transportation systems that offer innovative mobility solutions and ease snarls in the city. The RTA is keen on ensuring the principle of safety in all services delivered to clients. The autonomous pods have three protection systems in order to ensure full control and avoid accidents.
The main system comprises 3D cameras, and the second one is a standby system based on ordinary cameras, and the last is operated manually by the operator.