Look: We take a spin around Abu Dhabi in the Emirate's first self-driving taxis

Txai is operated with the highest safety and security standards, including cameras and sensors



Photo: Rahul Gajjar
Photo: Rahul Gajjar
by

Ashwani Kumar

Published: Thu 16 Dec 2021, 4:45 PM

Last updated: Thu 16 Dec 2021, 4:50 PM

Ever wondered what the future of urban mobility would look and feel like?

Visit Abu Dhabi to experience the game-changing self-driving technology in action.

On the streets of Yas Island, you can find the UAE’s first fleet of driverless cars steering on its own, slowing down ahead of speed bumps, shifting lanes seamlessly and safely transporting passengers while obeying the speed limits.

Khaleej Times was offered a fun ride filled with thrills of seeing the steering wheel turn on its own. From Yas Waterworld to the Etihad Arena we cruised past the Yas Marina Circuit as you could hear Formula 1 drivers vroom during their post-season testing.

Photo: Rahul Gajjar
Photo: Rahul Gajjar

Since November 23, the first trial phase of Txai - the taxi using artificial intelligence - has been progressing successfully on the island courtesy a collaboration between the Abu Dhabi’s Department of Municipalities and Transport and Bayanat for Mapping and Surveying Services – a subsidiary of Group 42, an AI and cloud computing firm.

The general public has enjoyed a free ride on one of the four taxis from nine pre-determined spots on Yas Island: Etihad Arena, Yas Beach, W Hotel, Yas Marina Circuit, Ferrari World, Yas Mall, IKEA, Warner Bros World Abu Dhabi and Yas Waterworld.

The ride-sharing service has evoked a positive response from the general public, said Hasan Al-Hosani, CEO of Bayanat.

“The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. The results of our survey determined that over 90 per cent of riders reported that their Txai experience was good.”

Txai is operated with the highest safety and security standards, including cameras and sensors to help with data on the road condition, traffic, distance with nearby objects, etc.

It uses different kinds of sensors like laser point cloud (testing the distance), microwave motion (detecting the long-distance) and visible light sensor (image recognition to distinguish different things on the road). Depending on weather conditions, the car can detect vehicles, obstacles, and surroundings ranging from 100m to 200m.

A considerable amount of data is collected with daily rides, which will help in the in-depth analysis leading to the second phase.

“Following the completion of phase 1 on December 23, we will begin examining the data from the Txai fleet management system, including but not limited to the quantitative orders, the popularity of the different points, and waiting times. These findings will form the basis of the key lessons learnt. The second phase of the trial will begin following an in-depth analysis of phase 1. Based on the phase 1 findings, we will determine the optimum time to initiate phase 2.”

At the current level 4 autonomous technique, a safety officer occupies the driving seat during the trial period to take control in case of an emergency, an accident or a flat tyre. However, the safety officer said to have had minimal intervention in the past few weeks.

Al-Hosani added that more areas in Abu Dhabi will be added in the trial's next phase.

“Phase 2 will include an increased operation of more than 10 vehicles in multiple locations across Abu Dhabi.”

The general public can make bookings through the Txai app from 8am to 8pm. A maximum of three people can travel at a time between any of these nine destinations. And once inside, a passenger must click ‘start’ on the screen to commence the journey.


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