Dubai ready to lead world in autonomous transport, says Sheikh Hamdan

Dubai Crown Prince honours winners of World Challenge for Self-Driving Transport

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Angel Tesorero

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Photos: Rahul Gajjar/KT
Photos: Rahul Gajjar/KT

Published: Tue 26 Sep 2023, 9:15 PM

Last updated: Tue 26 Sep 2023, 9:56 PM

‘Dubai is ready to lead the world in the sustainable smart mobility sector.’ This was underscored by Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of the Executive Council, as he inaugurated the 3rd Dubai World Congress for Self-Driving Transport on Tuesday.

Taking to micro-blogging platform X (formerly Twitter), Sheikh Hamdan said: “I attended the opening of the Dubai World Congress for Self-Driving Transport, and honoured the winners of the Dubai World Challenge for Self-Driving Transport. Featuring 2,000 international participants, 53 speakers and 40 exhibitors, the congress is the first event of its kind in the Middle East.

“By setting an inspiring example in adopting future technologies, Dubai is ready to lead the world in the sustainable smart mobility sector,” he underlined.

Organised by Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority (RTA), the two-day event is in line with Dubai Strategy for Smart Self-Driving Transport that was initiated by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, aimed at transforming 25 per cent of mobility journeys in Dubai into smart and driverless journeys by 2030.

Industry leaders

A self-driving mini-bus that can accommodate up to 12 passengers, and a university project on passenger experience and data security were the top winners in the Dubai World Challenge for Self-Driving Transport that has a total purse of $2.3 million.

China’s King Long Company won first place in the Industry Leaders category and was awarded $1 million. They presented a self-driving bus, six metres in length and equipped with 27 cameras and sensors. The bus can run up to 150 kilometres at top speed of 69kmph with AC on. The battery can be fully charged in 120 minutes.

According to RTA, King Long Company secured first place after the bus successfully underwent multiple tests based on five primary criteria, including operational strategy, safety and security, sustainability and energy, passenger experience, and interaction with road users.

The bus cleared 20 different tests such as emergency lane shifting, navigating through a roundabout with obstacles, and surpassing a broken-down vehicle in the middle of the road.

Bright Drive Company from Egypt, meanwhile, secured second place and took home $750,000 cash prize. The self-driving bus is also six metres in length that can accommodate up to 15 passenger. It is equipped with 16 cameras and sensors. It has a top speed of 69kmph and its battery can be fully charged in 180 minutes. The bus successfully passed tests that included reversing, navigating pedestrian crossing with limited visibility, and merging into traffic.

University projects

In the Local Academia category, Heriot-Watt University Dubai grabbed first place and received $200,000. The university presented an innovative concept where passengers experienced riding an autonomous vehicle in a virtual reality mode characterised by passenger safety and comfort. It has new features that includes integration with RTA App and a Journey Planner for bus riders accessible through interactions with a Chatbot.

Khalifa University of Science and Technology in Abu Dhabi, meanwhile, won second place and got $100,000. The university presented a customer experience concept for autonomous buses with a virtual human assistant capable of addressing and responding to passenger inquiries about the bus destination, the number of passengers, and internal and external temperatures.

Keynote by Flying Man

Sam Rogers, popularly known as the Flying Man, who is also the test pilot and designer lead at Gravity Industries, delivered the keynote address. In his speech, he discussed the future of mobility in the Gravity Jet Suit, the world's fastest jetpack crafted using 3D printing technology.

He praised Dubai for hosting the event and said: “We started using the jetpack suit across various countries worldwide, and paramedics have started utilising it to reach patients, envisioning it as a future mode of transportation.

“Current efforts are concentrated on manufacturing and evolving more jet suits, employing technology to create high-thrust and electric jet suits. We seek to expand the use of jet suits worldwide and host a race for jet suits in cities around the world, including Dubai,” he added.

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