Driverless ride-sharing in Dubai soon: All you need to know

Waheed Abbas/Dubai
Filed on April 12, 2021
Photo: Supplied

The science behind what makes self-driving cars a potentially safer transport alternative.

Soon, you’ll be enjoying the convenience of hailing and riding a driverless taxi in Dubai. But what’s the science behind it? What makes it a safer transport alternative?


>> Dubai to become first city outside US to operate driverless vehicles

Autonomous cars are linked to a shared knowledge base so that each vehicle can learn from the collective experiences of the entire fleet.

“If one car sees that a road is closed, the others automatically avoid it. Or if there’s a dangerous road hazard, a single car can notify thousands of others to avoid a potentially unsafe situation,” according to Cruise, the automous vehicle company that will be bringing self-driving cabs to Dubai.

This new mode of transport has become feasible with the introduction of 5G technology that has enabled the devices and machines to communicate with each other and learn from their experiences.

Cruise cars are equipped with five high-precision laser sensors that detect fixed and moving objects, 16 cameras and 21 radars to perform three elements — Perception, Planning and Controls — for a safe autonomous driving.

How each element works

>> With Perception, it “sees” by using sensors to monitor its environment. The sensors feed information to the computer that combines the sensor data with high-definition map data to localise the vehicle. It builds a three-dimensional model of the world that keeps track of important objects. Perception also predicts the objects’ future motion — pedestrians and trucks have different predicted movements.

Perception identifies other environmental uncertainties like where it must look for moving objects. If its view is blocked, Perception will flag that area as unknown. If an object is hard to see because of rain or fog, or because it is hidden behind a truck, the computer brain knows that and adjusts its decision-making and performance accordingly.

>> The second element — Planning — accounts for road rules and plans routes for the car to travel from trip origin to destination. It chooses routes to optimise efficiency and safety and to route the car only on streets within its capabilities. Planning identifies multiple paths per second, and chooses the best one to meet changing road conditions.

>> The third element — Controls — implements the final path from planning, giving the self-driving system full vehicle manoeuvrability, complete with stability, traction and anti-lock brake systems fully active. When the vehicle detects rapid or abnormal changes in weather conditions, it will adjust how it operates to accommodate the weather and how other road users are behaving, such as when traffic slows during heavy rain. At all times, fleet will communicate with a centralised fleet operations centre.

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