Local Business

Flying cars in Dubai come closer to reality

Muzaffar Rizvi/Dubai
Filed on April 13, 2017 | Last updated on April 13, 2017 at 08.24 am
Airbus and Italdesign Pop.Up flying drone car at the 87th International Geneva Motor Show.


Twenty-eight deals signed to pave way for flying vehicles, 3D printing.

Flying vehicles, 3D printing and solar-powered seawater desalination plans take a step forward to become a part of daily life as Dubai entities signed deals with private sector companies to materialise the innovative ideas in near future.

As many as 28 deals signed between Dubai government departments and innovative companies from around the world to transform the innovative ideas into reality in days to come.

The deals with leading international players will pave the way to test autonomous flying vehicles, create virtual learning environments for schools in Dubai and develop solar-powered seawater desalination plants in the country.

The Road and Transport Authority (RTA) and Uber agreed to explore what regulations would be required to test autonomous flying vehicles in Dubai. The RTA had already successfully carried out a test run of an autonomous aerial vehicle capable of carrying a human up in the air and first service is expected in July this year.


3D printing

The Dubai Municipality signed an MoU with Renca to legalise 3D printing building material, as a way to promote 3D printing in construction industry. They also signed with Winnow to encourage the deployment of the Internet of Things (IoT) to reduce food waste across the hospitality sector.

"The UAE is now a world-class destination for innovators to come and work with our government institutions to shape the future of vital sectors," said Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of the Board of Trustees for the Dubai Future Foundation.

Sheikh Hamdan, who attended the closing ceremony of the Dubai Future Accelerators' second cycle, applauded the forward-thinking and ambitious directives of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, for propelling the UAE to the prominent position it now occupies - especially with regards to future industries.

The DFA, part of a larger programme called the Dubai Future Agenda and is hosted by the Dubai Future Foundation in partnership with 7 founding entities of the Dubai government, on Wednesday successfully concluded the second round of the Dubai Future Accelerators (DFA) programme, - the largest government-supported accelerator with the capability of transforming the future.

The DFA, which was launched in July 2016, brings together the best companies, entrepreneurs and government entities who understand global challenges and invest into breakthrough technologies. About Dh1 billion, or $275 million, is to be invested over the next five years in projects and companies taking part in the accelerator programme.

"The UAE is offering technology companies an ideal platform to test global technologies and future solutions which cements the emirate's leading position in future industries and in the global charge to shape the future of the most vital sectors today," Sheikh Hamdan said.

He said the Dubai Future Accelerators programme sets an example and a business model where various sectors - public and private - can come together to find ways to face the challenges of the future, and benefit from the opportunities to secure sustainable development and prosperity for future generations.


E-learning and much more

In another development at the event, the Knowledge and Human Development Authority signed four deals with Funzi, Proversity, Zspace, and iMake, who will launch an e-training programme for schools in Dubai and train Emirati nationals in 21st century skills.

The Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (Dewa) signed an MoU with Desolinator to test a household desalination plant that uses solar energy to turn seawater into drinking water; other MoU's were signed with Mulk Holding and SolarBanks.

Moreover, the Dubai Health Authority (DHA) signed agreements with ASG Medical Equipment, ArcSecond and Photothera Labs to develop advanced health solutions, including a new technology to treat the eye retina for diabetic patients.

As many as 35 companies including 12 government entities took part in the second round of the DFA programme, which connects emerging technology companies with Dubai government bodies to test new approaches at the city- scale.

About 30 companies participated in the first round of DFA last year after which 19 pilot projects worth Dh120 million were signed in seven key sectors including health, education, energy, transportation, infrastructure, technology and security.

"The third round of the DFA is expected to launch in September and the applications will be invited by next month," Paul Smith, head of DFA programme, told Khaleej Times.

He said the application period will remain open for six months and the interested private sector companies can submit their application to register with the DFA programme.

"We are expecting more government entities such as Emirates airline among others can also join the DFA programme in third cycle," Smith said.


AI to improve customer service

Among other deals at the second round of DFA programme, du signed an MoU with Ultimate AI to use artificial intelligence to dramatically improve customer service in both Arabic and English.

The Department of Naturalisation and Residency Dubai will work with ObjectTech and Luther Systems to streamline the process for becoming resident in Dubai using biometric and blockchain technology.

Dubai Economy, formally known as DED, signed MoUs with Otonomos and MarketIQ to create new and innovative licensing procedures, reducing processing time for applications by 80 per cent.

Moreover, Dubai Police (DP) signed three agreements with Papilon, Velours, and Parabon, to deploy facial recognition glasses, a DNA-image database, and indoor mapping technologies that increase efficiency by 90 per cent.

Etisalat will work with Mobile Doctors, AlTibbi, and Made of Genes in order to bring the latest telemedicine technologies to the large medical institutions in the region, as well as to pilot a 'geno-bank' to Dubai.

The list of MoUs also included agreements between Smart Dubai, Avanza Solutions, and Consensys to standardise government services payment gateways using blockchain technology in Dubai.

On Wednesday, the DFA also hosted a panel discussion on 'Innovation in government'. It was moderated by PK Gulati, senior advisor of DFF, and participated by Shaima Faisal, manager startup and accelerator, innovation and creativity department of Dewa; and first lieutenant of Dubai Police Rashed Al Mansory.

"The idea behind the second round of DFA is to get the best talent and startups of the world and should pull future forward," Gulati told Khaleej Times.

The DFA programme offers an ideal opportunity to work towards finding solutions for the challenges that are expected to arise in vital sectors of the economy. Over the course of 9 weeks, the programme pairs top companies and cutting-edge entrepreneurs with powerful partners in the Dubai Government to create breakthrough solutions together.

- muzaffarrizvi@khaleejtimes.com

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