Watch: Dubai's RTA smart gates where your face is your nol card, revealed

Authority shows Khaleej Times a first look the technology at ongoing Gitex Global, dubbed as the world's largest technology and startup exhibition, on Monday


Angel Tesorero

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Photos, video by M. Sajjad
Photos, video by M. Sajjad

Published: Mon 16 Oct 2023, 6:23 PM

Last updated: Wed 15 Nov 2023, 4:52 PM

No nol card? No problem. Soon, commuters in Dubai can hop in the Metro without the need to physically tap a plastic or digital nol card as smart gates with facial recognition will be installed to let riders have a seamless journey.

Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) showed Khaleej Times the technology at the ongoing Gitex Global – dubbed as the world's largest technology and startup exhibition – on Monday.

The facial recognition works smooth and fast. It takes under five seconds to clear the gate – all the user has to do is to look at the 3D camera, which is powered by AI (artificial intelligence) that will verify the facial features and bio-data of the rider.

When will it be rolled out?

Salahaldeen AlMarzooqi, director of Automated Collection Systems at RTA, said the smart gates will be rolled out next year. “The technology will first be tested at public transport stations where there are less volume of passengers, before it will be rolled out across all our stations after the Proof of Concept succeeds."

He added the same facial recognition technology will also be used in all other mode of public transportation in Dubai, including tram, buses, abra and taxis.

“This innovation is the latest in our continuous effort to digitalise our services and deliver smooth journey to the public. We are moving from plastic and digital nol cards using mobile phone to media-less or facial technology system.”

How does it work?

All the user has to do is to register their bio data and the smart camera will scan their face to validate their identity at entry point and the gate will be opened automatically.

Just don’t you have a balance in your account. The fare will be deducted automatically but the user has to ensure that there is enough balance in his e-wallet or digital nol card.

Topping up a digital nol card will be the same as the current, which can be done at any metro station, online, through the mobile app or any solar top-up machines across the city.

Where else is facial recognition used?

The RTA already uses facial recognition at its headquarters in Al Garhoud, where employees and staff don’t need to use their IDs or fingerprints to enter its premises. They just look at the camera and the smart gates open.

Passengers at Dubai Airports will also soon enjoy a seamless and touchless travel experience with the introduction of a biometrics and facial recognition system later this year, according to airline officials. The system is currently undergoing trials at the Dubai International airport.


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