Gitex Global: After cars, self-driving trucks get ready to enter UAE

Company could potentially establish an artificial intelligence software development base here in the Emirates


Waheed Abbas

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Published: Wed 18 Oct 2023, 6:39 PM

Last updated: Wed 18 Oct 2023, 9:59 PM

Inceptio Technology, which produces autonomous driving heavy-duty trucks in China, plans to start a trial run of its trucks in the Gulf region in the next 12 months with the UAE and Saudi being the most attractive countries for the testing period, a senior official said on Wednesday.

“The commercialisation of autonomous trucks is likely to happen here in the next 24 months. The UAE is more convenient for acquiring talent and use as a business base while Saudi Arabia is a big market,” said Julian Ma, chief executive officer, Inceptio Technology.

The company has deployed more than 700 units, achieving almost 56 million kilometres of accident-free commercial mileage within the first year in China. This accounts for 75 per cent of highways in China.

He pointed out that fully autonomous and driverless trucks are still at least 4-5 years away from reality.

“When we talk about autonomous trucks, people often take that as a driverless. Fully autonomous trucks are still 5 to 7 years away, given the technology and legal requirements. Now the industry has a consensus that there are two stages. In the first stage, until 2027, highly automated and semi-autonomous trucks will be operated with a driver sitting in the cabin. It is called a co-piloting. The full driverless trucks worldwide at the earliest time possible in 2027 or even later, regardless of any region because it is highly safety sensitive and requires validation of not only technology but also a very lengthy validation for the regulator. And all that takes time,” said Ma.

Manufacturing in the UAE

Inceptio Technology chief said the company could potentially establish an artificial intelligence (AI) software development base here.

“We are seriously looking at the Middle East region as our next market and technology hub for future development. We have been talking to potential technology and distribution partners for almost a year,” Ma told Khaleej Times in an interview on the sidelines of the Gitex Global exhibition. The five-day exhibition, the largest gathering of technology companies in the world, opened on Monday at the Dubai World Trade Centre with more than 6,000 firms taking part in it.

He added that the UAE has a unique advantage because there is a Mohamed bin Zayed Ai University and the country is also a huge draw for talent from India, Europe and China. Ma hoped that the firm could have part of the hardware assembly here in the UAE or region.

“In 5-7 years, in collaboration with our partners, we can do a Middle East version of Tesla Semi truck... Establishing an electric truck manufacturing here is a lot easier than in diesel manufacturing truck,” he added.


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