Driverless EZ10 takes to the road in Downtown Dubai
Dubai - It can carry up to 10 passengers to travel short distances over pre-programmed routes in multi-use environments.
Some were apprehensive, others were excited and all of them were overwhelmed after riding EZ10, the region's first driverless 10-seater car, shuttling along Mohammed bin Rashid Boulevard in Downtown Dubai on Thursday.
"We were simply overwhelmed," was the verdict of Gladys Rego, one of the first riders of EZ10. "After reading about it in the newspaper, I asked my kids to come and give it a try. Dubai is really a global hub of innovation and we were very impressed with this new technology."
The driverless vehicle is a project of the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) launched during the Mena Transport Congress & Exhibition last year. And EZ10, which can carry up to 10 passengers, is manufactured by Easy Mile to travel short distances over pre-programmed routes in multi-use environments.
EZ10, powered by a 15Kv battery, travels on virtual routes, which can easily be reset to accommodate sudden changes as required.
Bassam Alsakka, system engineer at Omnix, a partner of Easy Mile, was present during the first day of the month-long trial. Alsakka said the autonomous vehicle is completely safe as it was fitted with all safety requisites like sensors.
Seven-year old Roxanne D'Costa said she was not afraid during the entire four-minute ride which covered a 700-metre pre-programed route from Vida Hotel and ended at the Dubai Opera.
EZ10 can go to a top speed of up to 40km/h but during the trial phase, it moved between 10 to 15km/h passing through pedestrian areas and dedicated cycle lanes. It slowed down, and at one point, came to a stop ?after someone crossed the pedestrian street.
Chinese expats Li Zhen and Tian Wei found the new mode of transport "very interesting."
"Our verdict is it's very safe and okay for all ages. Hopefully, we can have one plying the roads of Beijing someday," the Chinese couple added.
Jem Pontevedra, who works at a café in Downtown Dubai, said he was apprehensive riding EZ10 at first because unlike the metro, which is also driverless, EZ10 has no rail.
"But after a taking it (EZ10), I was convinced, we can really have this on roads," Jem said. "Hopefully this will be implemented soon, It's additional mobility for us. We can go around Downtown Dubai without taking a taxi. Alsakka said, although EZ10 can detect collisions, it will be kept for now in a closed environment.
> The driver-less car is four metres long and two metres wide. It requires a three-metre wide space to operate and can detect an obstacle up to 40 metres away. It is powered by a 15Kv battery.
> EZ 10 Route: 700-metre track along Mohammed Bin Rashid Boulevard, passing through Burj Khalifa, Dubai Mall, Dubai Opera, Souk Al Bahar and various hotels.
> Speed: Top speed of up to 40km/h. But during the trial phase, EZ10 will run at 25km/h passing through pedestrian areas and dedicated cycle lanes.
> Friendly: The vehicle is also special needs-friendly, with a moveable ramp allowing access to wheelchair-bound passengers.
> No rail required: Unlike the tram and metro, EZ10 does not need a rail to run. It follows a route, albeit, a 'virtual route' which can be modified or reset or re-routed as required.
> Memory: 90 minutes is required for EZ10 to map and memorise a route and then it runs on it without any human intervention
> Safety features: The vehicle is fitted with all safety requisites and can control and specify its planned route. The sensors and the intelligent technology of the vehicle enables it to tackle any obstacles encountered on the route to avoid collision. The system can detect obstacles at 360 degrees. It has a rooftop navigation system, equipped with two laser sensors and a GPS sensor. Sensors and cameras are equipped on all four corners of the vehicle with 270-degree peripheral vision.
> Power: The battery-powered vehicle can run up to four hours with AC,on a single charge, while without AC it can run up to 10 hours.
> Best for: EZ10 is best suited to cover the last mile where conventional means of transportation are not relevant but at the same time distances are too long to walk