Self-driving cars in UAE: Safety, infrastructure main concerns for public


Self-driving cars, UAE, Safety, infrastructure, main concerns, public, legislation, expats, fail-safe
Visitors looking at the Self-Driving car displayed at RTA stall on the opening day of the Dubai World Congress for Self-Driving transport held at Dubai World Trade Centre - Photo by M. Sajjad

Dubai - Indian expat Rahul Kapur, for his part, commented that fail-safe infrastructure should be put in place first.


Angel Tesorero

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Published: Tue 15 Oct 2019, 8:00 PM

Last updated: Tue 15 Oct 2019, 10:45 PM

Safety and infrastructure are two of the main concerns by the public when it comes to self-driving transport, according to an informal audience survey at the Dubai World Congress for Self-Driving Transport on Tuesday, October 15.
Among the four parameters - technology, safety, infrastructure and legislation - safety and infrastructure are on an even while technology comes as the least concern, followed by legislation.

Visitors and participants at the two-day congress, organised by the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA), were asked to vote by dropping a ball in each container labelled with the four themes concerning autonomous vehicles (AV).
Speaking to Khaleej Times, Pakistani expat and Dubai resident Ahmed Khalil said his biggest concern is safety. "There is still a lot of education needed to inform the public about AV safety. Maybe you are driving a self-driving car but the driver behind you is not, and he/she is not a safe driver and hits you - that would be an unfortunate accident."
Indian expat Rahul Kapur, for his part, commented that fail-safe infrastructure should be put in place first. "Safety will follow once the infrastructure such as dedicated lanes, special roads and wireless technology are in place," he explained.
All issues regarding autonomous cars were tackled at the self-driving transport congress. Leading car companies, universities and research centres explained various self-driving scenarios and applications in Dubai. The event also discussed the expansion of using self-driving transport in various modes and encouraged firms and institutions to cope with the existing challenges such as the use of public transport, and the first and last-mile challenge.
The RTA honoured winners of Dubai World Self-Driving Transport Challenge, the first of its kind in the world and the most sophisticated across the industry. The challenge attracted 65 global firms and academic institutions.
"Hosting the Dubai World Congress for Self-Driving Transport and the accompanying exhibition, for the first time in the Middle East, is part of the RTA's efforts to support the Dubai Self-Driving Transport Strategy issued by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai. The strategy aims to make 25 per cent of all trips in Dubai smart and driverless by 2030. It also enhances the leading role of Dubai in the self-driving transport field," said Mattar Al Tayer, director-general and chairman of the board of executive directors of the RTA.
Ahmed Hashim Bahrozyan, CEO of Public Transport Agency at the RTA, told reporters that the government is looking at converting all modes of transportation - by land, water or air - driverless.
Bahrozyan, however, did not set an exact time-frame when autonomous transport will be fully rolled out in Dubai. He added that at present, Dubai has passed legislation only for the trial phase of self-driving vehicles.
"We have already conducted several test runs of shuttle buses, driverless cabs, marine transport and flying taxis," he said, adding that there are still many safety parameters that are being studied, including the weather condition in the UAE.
Bahrozyan explained that Dubai is ready for driverless mode of transport and the infrastructure and cyber security are being developed to welcome the technology.
"Several options are also being studied including having a dedicated lane for driverless buses. Taxis, however, will have to run parallel to regular human-driven cars as it is not practical to have a dedicated route for them," Bahrozyan added.
Another major concern, according to Bahrozyan, is changing public perception on driverless vehicles. He said: "At the end of the day, what is most important is to bring people safely from one place to another. In this regard, we would like to highlight the point that driverless cars are safer than (human-driven) cars by removing the 'bad' driving behaviours that often cause accidents in the first place."

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