Coming soon to Dubai: Dh2 abra ride without anyone in the driver's seat

RTA clarifies that the fare would depend on the route and the service chosen


Sahim Salim

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Published: Wed 17 May 2023, 6:00 AM

Last updated: Wed 17 May 2023, 10:34 PM

Dubai has chosen the most traditional means of transport in the Emirate to give it a driverless future. The Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) announced earlier this week that a driverless abra navigated the Dubai Creek in a successful trial.

The traditional boat drove on its own from Al Jaddaf to the Festival City station, staying on its pre-defined path despite winds and waves.

In an exclusive interview, the RTA revealed that the self-driving service will cost the same as a normal trip on the abra. Fares on regular RTA abras start from Dh2. This means you could experience a trip on the Dubai Creek without anyone in the driving seat for as little as Dh2.

The RTA clarified that the fare would depend on the route and the service chosen.

Abras are the cheapest mode of transport in Dubai. Hundreds of residents use it to commute to work daily. The Dh2 trip is a major draw for tourists as well.

When will it roll out for mass use?

Six levels have been specified for autonomy for ship design and operation. The trial run of the driverless abra in Dubai achieved level 4. This means it operated on its own with a human supervisor at hand.

When it achieves level 5, the autonomous service will be “developed further”. Once this happens, Dubai will be the first city to roll out driverless boats for public transport.

How does it work?

It uses an automated self-driving system. Radars, sensors and cameras help it ‘see’ and navigate a pre-determined route. Advanced technology detects threats and responds when needed.

During the trial run, a captain was at hand to intervene if needed. However, the boat self-drove without any problem.

Locally manufactured

The electric abra was manufactured locally at the Al Garhoud Marine Maintenance Centre “with 100 per cent of RTA staff capabilities”.

“The experiments of autonomous systems were carried out in cooperation with RTA partners (Exalto Emirates/Marakeb companies),” the authority added.

The RTA has an ambitious strategy to convert 25 per cent of the total mobility journeys in Dubai into self-driving ones by 2030. This includes the deployment of Cruise autonomous taxis by the end of the year.


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