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17 July 2024

10 finalists announced for Dubai World Challenge for Self-Driving Transport

By E247

10 local and international establishments qualified for the final round at the 3rd Dubai World Challenge for Self-Driving Transport held under the theme: Self-Driving Buses representing the Industry Leaders and Local Academia categories. Winners of the challenge will be announced during the Dubai World Congress for Self-Driving Transport hosted at the Dubai World Trade Centre on 26-27 September 2023.  

Based on the decision of the international judges’ panel chaired by Dr Steven Shladover, an international expert in driverless transport technology, head of the jury of the Dubai World Challenge for Self-Driving Transport, five international firms had qualified for the final stage in the Industry Leaders category: Alexander Dennis (United Kingdom), BrightDrive (Egypt), Xiamen King Long (China), Quadribot (France), and iAuto Technology (Taiwan). Five universities were selected as finalists in the Local Academia category: Heriot-Watt University, Dubai, Khalifa University, University of Dubai, University of Bolton Ras Al Khaimah, and the American University of Sharjah. 

His Excellency Mattar Al Tayer, Director General, Chairman of the Board of Executive Directors of the Roads and Transport Authority, said: “Dubai World Challenge is held under the patronages of His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of the Executive Council. The event, the first of its kind worldwide, serves as an international platform bringing together self-driving transport professionals including policymakers, technologists, researchers, and academics. Through dialogues, seminars, and workshops, these experts share insights, explore best practices and discuss the latest innovations in autonomous technology.”


“The Dubai World Challenge for Self-Driving Transport aims to expand the use of self-driving transportation across the board. It encourages industry leaders to cope with the current challenges such as the first and last-mile challenge facing public transport riders in reaching their final destinations, traffic congestion, and the drop in public transport ridership. Self-driving transport has become a key pillar of RTA’s strategy and we are keen on launching several initiatives to turn the self-driving transportation concept into a reality in Dubai,” added Al Tayer.

“The Dubai World Challenge for Self-Driving Transport has contributed to asserting Dubai’s global standing as a pioneer in self-driving transport, and innovation. It paves opportunities for future-shaping, public-private partnerships, and R&D across several key sectors. These efforts are in line with Dubai's D33 Agenda aiming to position Dubai among the top global economic cities and double its economy in the forthcoming years.

“The 3rd edition saw a surge in submissions made as the challenge received 27 applications from all over the world, surpassing the targeted number by 130% in the Leading Industries category, and 175% in the Local Academia category,” noted Al Tayer.

Self-Driving Buses

Designating Self-driving Buses as a theme for the third edition of the Challenge is consistent with RTA’s efforts to achieve Dubai’s Smart Self-Driving Transport Strategy aimed to transform 25% of mobility journeys in Dubai into smart and driverless journeys by 2030. The event will feature an exhibition about self-driving transport, which is expected to attract over 60 exhibitors and 2,000 visitors.

The challenge had set a sum of US$2 million for the Industry Leaders category and US$300,000 for the Local Academia category. In the Industry Leaders category, US$1 million will go to the winner, and US$750,000 to the runner-up. Furthermore, US$250,000 will be allocated as part of a contract to run trials of driverless buses with one of the winners of this category to support the targets of the Dubai Smart Self-Driving Transport Strategy. In the Local Academia category, the winner will be awarded US$200,000 and the runner-up will receive US$100,000. 


This year’s renewal attracted great submissions since the launch of 3rd edition of the challenge in May 2022 via its dedicated website (www.sdcongress.com). The opportunity was offered to all local and international companies in the category of Industry Leaders, provided that they are registered in the country of origin or the UAE and are engaged in developing or operating self-driving buses. The Local Academia category was opened for all UAE-based universities, institutes, and research centres that have an interest in research about autonomous technologies. 


Companies who qualified for the Dubai World Challenge for Self-Driving Transport had to pass standardised tests designed by global experts. They included basic and advanced tests, covering traffic safety, maturity of the autonomous technology in buses, user convenience, credibility and forward vision of the participating entity, the extent of innovation, skills and relevant expertise as well as the commercial aspects of feasibility and value addition.

Tests for the Industry Leaders category were conducted at a designated site at Dubai Silicon Oasis in collaboration with the Dubai Silicon Oasis Authority, to ensure all safety protocols are met.

In the tests for the Local Academia category, each university showcased its prototype at its campus. The assessment is guided by the university's solutions for enhancing passenger service, integration with autonomous buses, and the maturity of proposed solutions.

Judges Panel

The judging committee for the Dubai World Challenge for Self-Driving Transport comprises of a diverse team of global experts. Their selection was based on multiple criteria, notably their proficiency in autonomous technology-particularly buses, contribution to research and development in autonomous mobility, and participation in previous editions of the challenge.