On the road to a traffic-free future in UAE
Self-driving transport (SDT) will not only transform our mobility, but also our social life.
Driverless cars, flying taxis, autonomous buses and trucks, self-driving boats, skypods, unibikes and hyperloop - the future of transport is closer than you think.
Published: Wed 25 Dec 2019, 8:00 PM
Last updated: Wed 25 Dec 2019, 10:51 PM
His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, declared recently that "by 2030, 25 per cent of all transportation trips in Dubai will be smart and driverless". The strategy is projected to generate economic revenues and savings of up to Dh22 billion a year.
What was once a distant dream is now becoming a reality. Today, the Dubai Metro is the longest self-driving public transportation system in the world while other public transport modes such as first-mile-last-mile shuttles and bus rapid transit (BRT) are also making considerable progress towards achieving self-driving functionalities.
Self-driving transport (SDT) will not only transform our mobility, but also our social life. It will result in better road safety, reduced mobility costs, reduced parking costs, environmental benefits, improved productivity, and improved quality of life and citizen happiness.
New vehicle designs may further maximise passenger productivity by providing them with workstations, sleeping pods, and infotainment units while traveling. In Dubai, SDT will be developed in all seven modes of public transport fleet including Metro, tram, bus, taxi, marine transport, cable cars and shuttle.
Estimated time of arrival: In under 10 years
We have been given glimpses into what the future of transport looks like, and it's smooth!
A model of a flying taxi was unveiled at the World Government Summit back in 2017. Several tests have been conducted ever since and the prototype used in Dubai has a maximum flying time of 30 minutes at 50kmph, with a top airspeed of 100kmph.
Self-driving cars have come to the UAE and Khaleej Times took a ride in an autonomous SUV on the streets of Dubai during the World Congress for Self-Driving Transport. The Jaguar I-Pace SUV had extra sensors, front and rear radars, an additional camera in front that was enhanced to monitor the traffic light and a GPS kit to draw up a high-definition map of the route.
A vacuum-tube transport system that can propel passengers at 1,000kmph. This means travel time from Dubai to Abu Dhabi in the future can be reduced to a mere 12 minutes - a fraction of the travel period five decades ago.
The first model of the Dubai skypod units is called the Unibike, a small-sized, lightweight vehicle that is fitted with steel wheels to move on suspended rails. According to the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA), the Unibike can accommodate up to five passengers and their luggage. It can travel at a maximum speed of 150kmph and ferry about 20,000 riders per hour
>Reverse gear: How the decade unfolded
A few decades ago, there were more camels than cars along the UAE's major roads. There were no roads to connect the surrounding emirates and the only way to get around were by 4x4s.
"Camels ruled the desert and they could frequently be seen crossing the Sheikh Zayed Road," long-time UAE resident Om Prakash Malik, 82, recalled. "Cars were few and the travel time between Dubai and Abu Dhabi would take a little over two hours - as compared to a little over one hour now - because you could not drive fast and you had to always watch out for camels passing by," the Indian expat, who came to the UAE in 1978 to work as a marine engineer, had told Khaleej Times in a previous interview.
Now, spotting super cars zooming on the Sheikh Zayed Road is an everyday affair. Public transport system also made a rapid turnaround in 1997, when the idea for the Dubai Metro was first introduced to meet the increasing traffic demands.
A decade ago, on September 9, 2009, the operation of the region's first driverless Metro rail transport system began.
Currently, the Dubai Metro is the largest self-driving Metro system in the world, serving approximately 8.8 per cent of all individual trips in Dubai. It has become the main showpiece of Dubai's ambitious plan to revamp mass transit systems and raise the share of public transport in the people's mobility to as much as 30 per cent by 2030.
Self-drive your way to good mileage
Dh22B-Estimated revenue and savings per year due to self-driving transport technology
All vehicles will benefit from connected services that advise on signal phase and timing, which reduces wasted energy from braking and improves flow through signalised junctions.
44%-Projected reduction in the cost of mobility. Autonomous vehicles as well as steam-lined mapping and journey planning will result in overall decrease in fuel expenses and vehicle efficiencies.
It is also expected that the vehicle ownership model will change for many from single ownership to a shared ownership model.
13%-Expected increase in productivity. Hands off the wheels will free up time spent on commuting and for drivers to undertake other tasks. Drivers would be able to spend travel time working, relaxing and/or any other productive activities.
5G-This is already underway, which will not only allow cars to 'talk' to each other faster and with fewer interruptions, but will also warn each other of accidents or traffic jams ahead.