Why this is important to Wisconsin businesses: It’s the latest in a series of autonomous vehicle projects in the UAE.
Bayanat, a locally owned and operated mapping and surveying services company, launched the trial run of the country’s first fully autonomous taxis in December, in the United Arab Emirates capital of Abu Dhabi. Residents were able to download the TXAI app—misspelled intentionally—and book a ride around Yas Island, one of Abu Dhabi’s top tourism destinations, from nine locations. Although the cars are autonomous, during this testing phase there was a safety officer on board at all times. Two of the vehicles in the December test run were electric and two were hybrid. The second phase of the initiative will increase passenger transportation from four vehicles to ten, and will cover a broader area of Abu Dhabi. Bayanat is a subsidiary of Group 42, an artificial intelligence and cloud computing company based in Abu Dhabi.
The UAE’s most populous city, Dubai, announced its Autonomous Transportation Strategy in April 2021, with plans to convert 25% of total transportation in Dubai to autonomous mode by 2030. The goals: to reduce transportation costs, carbon emissions and accidents. Projections showed that combined with the hours wasted in conventional transportation and the increased productivity, total savings will amount to $6 billion USD.
The strategy features four main pillars: individuals, technology, legislative structure and infrastructure. By establishing a Centre of Excellence for Autonomous Transportation Systems, Dubai is building expertise and attracting researchers and specialists in the field of autonomous transportation technology. UAE is driving the adoption of artificial intelligence, machine learning and digitization across the board, challenging every government department to seek out solutions through emerging technologies and encouraging the private sector to do the same.
Autonomous developments already underway include delivery drones, smart pods, a hyperloop, autonomous vehicles, flying taxis and SkyWay Dubai—a new mode of transportation in development that will carry passengers and freight on a specially designed, elevated string-rail overpass, with the capacity to transport up to 8,400 passengers per hour in each direction.
The Autonomous Transportation Strategy is part of the nation-state’s strategic plan to consolidate its sustainable development and its global leadership in multiple sectors. With business conditions seeing the sharpest improvement in two years, optimism is high.