Self-driving cabs may hit UAE roads next year
Dubai - AutoX, a firm based in Hong Kong, is in talks with some UAE companies and groups.
Next year, the UAE can possibly have its first 'robotaxi' - or a cab without the cabbie - if a self-driving car startup gets the partnership it needs to run the business in the UAE.
AutoX, a firm based in Hong Kong, is in talks with some UAE companies and groups and, if all goes well, it targets to launch its commercial robotaxi, along with autonomous delivery services, in 2020.
"The technology already exists. With the cooperation of government agencies, the UAE's first commercial robotaxi will become a reality next year," Jianxiong Xiao, founder and chief executive of AutoX, said ahead of Gitex Technology Week.
AutoX, which has offices in the US and China, recently moved its headquarters from Silicon Valley to Hong Kong.
Besides robotaxis, the company also uses its tech in deliveries.
Earlier this year, AutoX wowed the visitors of the CES tech show in Las Vegas as it used its self-driving car to deliver burgers and fries.
It is currently operating robotaxi, delivery and manufacturing pilot programmes in the US, Europe and China.
"People will benefit from a world where they receive their delivered goods such as food, medicine, clothing, electronics, etc, via automated vehicles or robots, and get around town via a self-driving robotaxi," Xiao said.
Perfect for Dubai
He added that Dubai will be a perfect place to launch a commercial robotaxi service in 2020.
"We believe AutoX is an ideal partner for Dubai and the UAE. ... The country's push to become a global technology hub and leader in artificial intelligence (AI) is impressive.
"We welcome discussions with the Dubai Roads and Transport Authority, Abu Dhabi Department of Transport, and Sharjah Roads and Transport Authority to fast-track a robotaxi pilot based on our global learnings," he said.
"With the right regulations, a commercial robotaxi service is possible by 2020. Dubai's integrated mobility platform, S'hail, offers an outstanding framework for advancing autonomous vehicle mobility."
The startup's goal
AutoX has branched into both sectors of autonomous technology with the ultimate goal of democratising autonomy and making self-driving technology safe, affordable, and accessible, he added.
Trailblazing robotaxi efforts worldwide, the autonomous vehicle tech company has a partnership with the Jiading District of The City of Shanghai to launch a 100-vehicle robotaxi pilot by the end of 2019 and with National Electric Vehicle Sweden to launch Europe's first robotaxi pilot by 2020.
Xiao said more than $80 billion has been invested in autonomous vehicles among 160 separate investments.
He said autonomous-vehicle technology will be improving the lives of billions of people on Earth.